Tuning in to the people's wavelength

CHARLIE MITCHELL
Last updated 05:00 23/07/2014
Samoa Capital Radio
MATT DUNCAN / FAIRFAX NZ

SOUNDS OF THE PACIFIc: Popular radio host Tufue Fiso in the studio at Samoa Capital Radio.

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Walking home from work one day, Tufue Fiso was surprised to hear the boys from his church shout out, "Hey, we listened to you on the radio!"

He shouldn't have been. When he talks about something, a lot of people listen - they talk about the same things at work, at church, and at gatherings.

For more than 50,000 Samoans from Taupo to Christchurch, Fiso is one of the most influential voices on the airwaves.

He is a broadcaster at Samoa Capital Radio, a Wellington-based station that broadcasts 80 per cent of its content in Samoan.

The station recently received $180,000 from NZ On Air, as part of its commitment to diversity on the airwaves.

Broadcasting has been Fiso's dream since he volunteered at a ramshackle Christian radio station in Samoa.

"If I wasn't a broadcaster, I would be doing my best to become a broadcaster. I don't want to do anything else."

He is now one of the gatekeepers of the Samoan language in New Zealand, through his popular morning show Laugh of the Morning.

He talks eagerly about the station's mission - to "entertain, educate, inform and forewarn" - and believes the way to do that is to get people laughing, and talking about the issues.

"I like informing our community about what is happening in New Zealand, Samoa, the Pacific, and around the world. This is the job I really want to do.

"But [listeners] say we entertain them when they wake up in the morning . . . they get some laughs or have a smile before they go to work or go to school."

For Samoan natives who come to our shores, Samoa Capital Radio is one of the main ways to stay in touch with others from the homeland.

It's an entertaining, insightful alternative to the "palagi" stations, and gives people something to connect around, he says.

"For those of us from Samoa, from age 20 up to 80, 90, 100, we are the mainstream for the Samoan people."

Samoan is the third most-spoken language in New Zealand, behind English and Maori.

Fiso wants to make sure his fellow Samoans will always have a voice like theirs to listen to on the airwaves.

"In a lot of Samoan families, the mum or the dad wake up in the morning and turn on the radio. No-one touches the radio.

"Because the mum or the dad is the boss of the family . . . they have to listen to what they want."

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- Wellington

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