June 7, 2023

By Marie-Ève Caron, APTN Communications Coordinator 

Following the signature of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between APTN and Whakaata Māori in December 2022, a delegation from the Aotearoa-based Indigenous broadcaster visited APTN headquarters in Winnipeg in April 2023.

Since 2004, Whakaata Māori (Aotearoa’s national Indigenous broadcaster) has made significant contributions to the revitalization of Māori culture and language. Much like APTN, their network is dedicated to sharing Indigenous stories and creating bridges of understanding between Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities. 

At the ratification of an MOU between APTN and Whakaata Māori in Aotearoa last December, APTN’s representatives were humbled by Whakaata Māori’s hospitality. APTN National News shared a video of the official celebrations, which you can view here. Monika Ille, APTN CEO, describes the essence of the agreement in the context of cultural and linguistic reclamation: “For too many years, Indigenous Peoples have not been seen on television. Our stories have been told by others. We are reclaiming our lands. We are reclaiming our identities, our languages and our ability to tell our own stories. This is Indigenous narrative sovereignty.” 

Recently, APTN was thrilled to welcome a Whakaata Māori delegation to Canada and show them some of the same kindness they extended to us in Aotearoa. The Whakaata Māori delegation consisted of Shane Taurima (CEO) and his partner, Tamati, as well as Maramena Roderick (Director of Content) and Jo Santamaria (Coordinator). 

Dennis Ward from Face to Face, APTN’s sit-down interview show, had the chance to interview Shane Taurima during the delegation’s visit. In the interview, Whakaata Māori’s CEO explains that their work as an Indigenous broadcaster is not just about sharing content, but also about sharing knowledge. 

The recent MOU between APTN and Whakaata Māori establishes a strategic partnership that both broadcasters will leverage to develop and distribute more Indigenous content. “We are so excited about our partnership with Whakaata Māori, which is helping us create positive change and further uplift the diverse voices of our Peoples,” said APTN board member David McLeod during his welcome address. 

The goal of this MOU is to facilitate collaboration, as learning from each other and working together is key to further strengthening our respective networks. “We have both the responsibility and the privilege of uplifting Indigenous creators, celebrating our cultures and sharing our stories with the world. Together, we can enact so much positive change within the broadcasting industry and make important strides towards reconciliation,” said APTN chair Julie Grenier. 

In addition to the more formal elements of Whakaata Māori’s visit to APTN headquarters, the delegation had the opportunity to enjoy performances from a variety of local Indigenous artists, including Métis jigging troupe United Thunder and folk music duo Burnstick. APTN offered many blessings and opportunities to smudge, including during an exchange of gifts and a blanket ceremony. 

Both Whakaata Māori and APTN are part of the World Indigenous Television Broadcasters Network (WITBN) alongside NRK Sápmi in Norway, Taiwan Indigenous Television (TITV) and National Indigenous Television (NITV) in Australia. This alliance plays a critical role in preserving Indigenous cultures, identities and languages. “WITBN unifies Indigenous broadcasters worldwide to retain and grow our Indigenous languages and cultures and promote Indigenous storytelling,” said Shane Taurima, CEO of Whakaata Māori. You can read more about WITBN and the work they do in their recent press releases: World Indigenous Television Broadcasters reprise network and WITBN promotes Indigenous stories to new audiences and platforms.