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Newshub presenter Oriini Kaipara reveals her greatest success

'I was influenced by kuia who had so much mana and grace'

Oriini Kaipara made history in 2019 as the first fluently bilingual wahine with a moko kauae to present a national mainstream TV news bulletin in the world.

In that moment, the Newshub presenter broke new ground for wahine Māori and indigenous people in broadcasting, but she considers her greatest success is to have “held on strong to my language, my cultural identity, living and breathing it every day”, not just at home with her kids, but with her wider West Auckland community.

Whakatāne-born Oriini, 39, was among the first generation of Māori children who experienced total language immersion at Kōhanga Reo and then Kura Kaupapa, and says she was raised “surrounded by women who were fearless in terms of standing up for Māori rights.

She tells, “I was influenced by kuia [older women] who had so much mana and grace, and just carried themselves with an air of beauty and strength.”

Mum-of-four Oriini was 16 and had graduated wharekura (high school) to study law when she discovered she was expecting her son Paetawhiti, now 22. Her daughter Te Aomihia, 21, arrived a year later and soon after, Oriini’s mum told her she’d look after her babies while Oriini – who is of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa and Ngāti Rangitihi descent – carved out a life for herself.

She landed a place at South Seas Film and Television School, and never looked back. As she built her career, she had two more children, son Nikau, 16, and daughter Ngarongokahira, 10.

The journalist knows exactly what she’d tell her 16-year-old self. “I was always keen to be much older than I was. I would tell my younger self, ‘Don’t grow up too fast, and just enjoy and appreciate the people in your life.’

“I would spend more time with my nan and hang out with my older people – my parents especially. My mum passed away last year. When you start losing key people in your life, that’s something you can never get back.”

Oriini says “archaic thinking, misogyny and pay equity” are still big hurdles for New Zealand women. “I can’t believe we’re still having to advocate, and push and protest just to have equal respect and equal pay.”

As a child, she recalls her grandmother always had a copy of the Weekly on her table and, she laughs, “I love puzzles because of my nan.”

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