TV

Weather presenter Te Rauhiringa ‘I’m standing on the shoulders of giants’

The TV presenter’s forecasts are causing a storm in a teacup, but Te Rauhiringa’s turning the lows into a high

With her cheery demeanour and her passion for te reo Māori, TVNZ’s newest weather presenter, Te Rauhiringa Brown, is a ray of sunshine to those who tune in to watch.

But recently she experienced a cloudy moment in her career after a raft of negative comments surfaced online, complaining about the fluent Māori speaker using both English and te reo while presenting the weather. One complainant said it was a “disgrace”.

“It baffles me that people say these things and have views about Māori, a culture that they’ve probably never spent any time with and a language they haven’t put any energy into learning about,” Te Rauhiringa tells the Weekly.

“Te reo Māori is more than just a language. It’s a world view; it’s the way that we treat people.”

The 30-year-old grew up attending kōhanga reo and kura kaupapa Māori-language immersion schools.

She started her TV career at 19 as a presenter on te reo Māori children’s show Pūkana and has been a regular presenter on various kids’ shows. She has since become an actress and writer of theatre shows in both English and Māori.

The all-rounder has also acted in films.

She joined TVNZ in 2018 as a journalist and worked on Te Karere before joining Seven Sharp. This year, she was asked to juggle her role on the week-night current affairs show with being a weekend weather presenter on 1News to cover for Renee Wright, who is on maternity leave.

Te Rauhiringa’s reports are a bright spot on a cloudy day.

“Presenting the weather is not something that I aspired to do,” she tells. “But I saw it as an opportunity to promote te reo Māori in a mainstream space, and for little Māori boys and girls to see themselves represented in another aspect of television.”

She trained for six weeks and spent two days at the Met Service to learn about weather patterns.

“I underestimated the job,” she admits. “Not only do you have to understand the subject matter, the science of what you are delivering, you have to read two autocues, engage with the videowall and write the scripts.”

Growing up with an Indian grandfather and Māori/Pākehā parents, Te Rauhiringa, who is of Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Apakura and Ngāti Kahu descent, is used to the negative comments about her mixed race. But she’s surprised she has to defend speaking one of our official languages on national TV.

“Some people email me directly to tell me how they think te reo is just a made up language, that it has no value and it’s a waste of time. I’ve never experienced racism in this capacity. I try and not let the comments get to me. I just think about how my grandparents were beaten at school for speaking Māori. A few racist comments is nothing compared to what they had to fight against.”

Te Rauhiringa’s employer, TVNZ, has said they are proud of her, and will always support and encourage her and other presenters who embrace speaking te reo Māori on their network.

She’s also been grateful for the encouragement from other Māori wāhine in the TVNZ newsroom, like Jenny-May Clarkson, Yvonne Tahana, Tania Page and Miriama Kamo, who have experienced similar negative criticism in the past.

“These amazing wāhine support and hold me,” she enthuses. “They tell me that if people react this way, then it just reinforms that what we are doing has value.”

What also helps Te Rauhiringa is knowing that the first female weather presenter on New Zealand television was also Māori. Tina Carline, of Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, presented the weather on 1News in the 1970s until the early eighties. Just like Te Rauhiringa, she infused te reo Māori during her weather reports.

Te Rauhiringa’s reports are inspired by weather icon Tina.

“I was really proud knowing that I was following in her footsteps,” she asserts. “She was using te reo Māori at a time when it was treated like a foreign language in our own country. By following in her legacy, I feel like I’m standing on the shoulders

of giants.”

At home, Te Rauhiringa is supported by her partner, actor, professional golf coach and fellow fluent Māori speaker Mauri Oho Stokes, and her two children Te Māpuna, 12, and Te Rangikohea, eight.

Just like their mother, her sons attend a total immersion school and have grown up speaking fluent te reo Māori.

Te Rauhiringa’s youngest boy, Te Rangikohea, interrupts our interview to give his mother a huge bear hug. She asks him his thoughts about seeing his mother present the weather the previous night.

With husband Mauri and sons Te Māpuna (left) and Te Rangikohea.

“I think you were great, Mummy,” he affirms.

And it’s hearing the positive feedback from her son that reminds Te Rauhiringa that what she is doing is worth it.

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