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Aye Awa Away

Awa FM gets new home

Laurel Stowell

Geoff Mariu

NEW HOME: Geoff Mariu is happy that Whanganui iwi radio station Awa FM finally has a place of its own.

The move to roomier quarters at Wanganui's Tupoho Community Complex means Awa FM can take on more, manager Geoff Mariu says.

"The overall goal is for us to be the hub of iwi communications, so we're going to explore other media."

One of those could be print, and another could be podcasts of programmes available on the internet. Staff also hoped Te Puna Matauranga o Whanganui, the tribe's education authority, would move in with them.

"That way we can align our reo Maori strategies."

The best thing about the move could be placing the station in the heart of the community.

"We're looking forward to being accessible. It's going to be great being more interactive," Mr Mariu said.

In its new home Awa FM is nestled between parts of Te Oranganui Iwi Health Authority and the Aotea Region's kohanga reo headquarters.

The family atmosphere at the site was evident yesterday, with a crush of people greeting, hugging and chatting with one another, and celebratory kapa haka that nearly lifted the roof off.

About 200 people celebrated the move and the station's 21st birthday. They were joined by representatives of neighbouring iwi radio stations Te Korimako (Taranaki) and Te Upoko o Te Ika (Wellington).

After the formalities there was entertainment by culture groups Te Matapihi, Te Taikura o Te Awa Tupua, Te Reanga Morehu o Ratana and Tiare Tana from the Cook Islands. That was followed by food, the final of the Whanganui The Voice karaoke competition and live bands until 5pm.

Awa FM began broadcasting from 70 Campbell St, the former library building for the Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic, on June 1.

From the start of the station in 1991 until this month its home base was upstairs in the Andersons building at 50 Victoria Ave.

It broadcasts from Ratana to Kai Iwi and upriver as far as the Waimarino and Taumarunui. It has 10 staff - six of them announcers. Kahurangi Simon's reggae show is one of its most popular.

Mr Mariu has been station manager for the past 12 years and was board chairman for five years before that. He said the station had always dreamed of having its own place. It considered the Whanganui River Maori Trust Board building in Taupo Quay, but that had proved too expensive.

The move to 70 Campbell St has been planned for the past six months. It was a mission, with lots of technical details to be worked out. Broadcasting will be from a temporary studio until a new one is finished.

The Te Ati Hau and Pakaitore trusts had been generous with their financial support, Mr Mariu said.

"It's about the iwi investing in us and us investing back with the iwi."

The Tupoho Community Complex is a parcel of land and buildings between Wicksteed and Bell Sts that used to be the main campus for Wanganui Regional Community Polytechnic. When it was no longer needed, it was landbanked ahead of forming part of the Treaty of Waitangi land settlement for Whanganui Maori.

It's now being managed by Wanganui's Tupoho Whanau Trust and has a whole range of new occupants, including Whanganui UCOL fine arts students.

© Wanganui Chronicle June 18th, 2012.

This material remains © APN Holdings NZ Limited and is only to be used for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the copyright holder.

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