Radio New Zealand

Radio New Zealand (Māori: Te Reo Irirangi o Aotearoa), commonly known as Radio NZ or simply RNZ, is a New Zealand public-service radio broadcaster and Crown entity that was established under the Radio New Zealand Act 1995. It operates a news and current-affairs network, RNZ National, and a classical-music and jazz network, RNZ Concert, with full government funding from NZ on Air. Since 2014, the organisation's focus has been to transform RNZ from a radio broadcaster to a multimedia outlet, increasing its production of digital content in audio, video, and written forms.[4]

Radio New Zealand (RNZ)
Māori: Te Reo Irirangi o Aotearoa
RNZ logo.svg

Radio New Zealand House, Wellington
Crown Entity overview
Preceding agencies
  • Radio New Zealand (SOE)
  • New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation
  • National Broadcasting Service
  • New Zealand Broadcasting Board
  • Radio Broadcasting Company
HeadquartersRadio New Zealand House, Wellington
Minister responsible
Crown Entity executive
Parent departmentMinistry for Culture and Heritage

The organisation plays a central role in New Zealand public broadcasting. The New Zealand Parliament fully funds its AM network, used in part for the broadcast of parliamentary proceedings. RNZ has a statutory role under the Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 to act as a "lifeline utility" in emergency situations.[5] It is also responsible for an international service (known as RNZ Pacific); this is broadcast to the South Pacific in both English and Pacific languages through its Pacific shortwave service.[6]



Early years

Government-funded public service radio in New Zealand was historically provided by the Radio Broadcasting Company between 1925 and 1931, the New Zealand Broadcasting Board between 1931 and 1936, the National Broadcasting Service between 1936 and 1962, the New Zealand Broadcasting Corporation between 1962 and 1975, and the Radio New Zealand state-owned enterprise between 1975 and 1995.[7] The organisation placed a strong emphasis on training its staff in Received Pronunciation, until it began promoting local and indigenous accents in the 1990s.[8][9]

As part of the process of privatisation carried out by the fourth National government, the government's commercial radio operations were sold to private investors as The Radio Network in 1996 and the government's non-commercial assets (known previously as New Zealand Public Radio) became the current Radio New Zealand Crown entity.[10][11][12]

Later years

The broadcaster is bound by the Charter and Operating Principles included in the Radio New Zealand Act, which is reviewed by the New Zealand Parliament every five years. The Radio New Zealand Amendment Act received Royal assent on 1 April 2016.[citation needed]


  1. As an independent public service broadcaster, the public radio company's purpose is to serve the public interest.
  2. Freedom of thought and expression are foundations of democratic society and the public radio company as a public service broadcaster plays an essential role in exercising these freedoms.
  3. The public radio company fosters a sense of national identity by contributing to tolerance and understanding, reflecting and promoting ethnic, cultural, and artistic diversity and expression.
  4. The public radio company provides reliable, independent, and freely accessible news and information.

RNZ broadcasts over three nationwide networks; RNZ National, RNZ Concert and the AM network which relays Parliamentary proceedings. RNZ Pacific (formerly Radio New Zealand International or RNZI) is our overseas shortwave service, broadcasting to the South Pacific and beyond, while Radio New Zealand News provides comprehensive, up-to-the-minute news and current affairs information. RNZ also allows for the archiving of broadcast material of historical interest.

It must also produce and commission high quality programming based on research of public needs, and balance mass appeal and minority appeal programming. In achieving these objectives, it must be socially and financially responsible.[13]

The Wireless

This was The Wireless logo when it was launched in 2013.

In October 2013, Radio New Zealand launched the youth-focused and non-commercial website 'The Wireless'. The website emerged from the push for a youth radio station as part of Radio New Zealand's offerings. Instead of creating a youth radio station, RNZ decided to create a website or online magazine that focused on 18- to 30-year-olds which would be more relevant to the demographic.[14]

Project manager Marcus Stickley noted that: "RNZ has had the wisdom to recognize that it didn't necessarily need to be under the RNZ brand. It needed to develop something specifically for that audience, and they've given us the freedom to go away and figure out exactly how to do that."[15] The CEO of RNZ commented in April 2014 that The Wireless is "the most exciting innovation from RNZ in recent years."[16][17][18][19]

The Wireless ceased operating as an independent publication in 2018, and was folded back into RNZ.[20]

Radio services

RNZ National

RNZ National, formerly National Radio, is RNZ's comprehensive, authoritative and independent News and Current Affairs platform and is RNZ's core offering and the primary driver of audiences to RNZ; for both its own on-air and online services and also those from third party services. It includes the flagship news and current affairs programmes Morning Report, Midday Report and Checkpoint as well as having news bulletins every hour. Its news service has specialist correspondents, overseas correspondents, reporters and a network of regional reporters. Magazine programmes include a broad range of contributors, interviews, music pieces and dramas, with reports and regular features in English and Māori. The network provides coverage of science, politics, philosophy, religion, rural affairs, sports and other topics.

RNZ National broadcasts in AM and FM via mono terrestrial transmitters based around New Zealand and the Optus satellite. It is also available on Sky Digital TV channel 421, Freeview satellite channel 50, and RNZ National is available in stereo on the terrestrial Freeview HD service.

RNZ Concert

RNZ Concert is New Zealand's fine music network. Concert promotes New Zealand music and composition and features live broadcasts of concerts and recitals, as well as international content from other public radio broadcasters, podcasts, and on-demand programmes. RNZ Concert is an FM radio network broadcasting classical and jazz music, as well as world music, specialist programmes and regular news updates. The network was previously known as Concert FM but the name was changed as part of a wider name change within Radio New Zealand to associate Concert FM with the RNZ brand. RNZ Concert was refreshed in February 2018, with several new programmes and presenters, and a renewed focus on live music and storytelling on New Zealand's music and arts communities.[21]

The station broadcasts in FM stereo via terrestrial transmitters located around New Zealand, as well as from the Optus satellite. It is also available on Sky Digital TV channel 422, and on Freeview's satellite and terrestrial services on channel 51. The playlist is among the most diverse and eclectic of the world's state run classical music networks.

AM Network

The AM Network is a network of radio transmitters operated by RNZ which broadcast all sittings of the New Zealand Parliament through a contract with the Clerk of the House of Representatives. Sitting hours are seasonal, and may be extended due to certain circumstances, but are generally 14:00 to 18:00 Tuesday and Wednesday, 14:00 to 17:00 Thursday and 19:00 to 22:00 Tuesday and Wednesday.[22] AM Network Parliamentary coverage is also streamed online, with podcasts and transcripts available.

The House is broadcast on RNZ on the House sitting days at 6:55 pm and 5:40 am and Sunday at 7:30 am and 10:45 pm. It looks at legislation, issues and insights from Parliament.

To help fund the operation of the station, RNZ has leased the remaining hours to Christian broadcaster Rhema Broadcasting Group since 1997, which uses the frequencies to broadcast the low-budget easy listening Southern Star network.[23] The transmitters were previously used by The Concert Programme before it moved to FM broadcasting.[24]

RNZ Pacific

The RNZ Pacific network (known outside New Zealand as RNZ International, or RNZI) broadcasts on shortwave and via Digital Radio Mondiale to New Zealand's neighbouring countries in the Pacific from transmitters located at Rangitaiki, near Taupo, in the North Island.[25] There also is a relay via WRN Broadcast and a livestream on the internet.

RNZ podcasts and series

RNZ has a wide variety of podcasts and series.[26] Series can be downloaded in Oggcast format.

RNZ News

RNZ's main news centres are located in Wellington and Auckland, with additional newsrooms in Whangarei, Hamilton, New Plymouth, Napier Hawkes Bay, Nelson, Christchurch, and Dunedin. There is also a Parliamentary Press Gallery office situated in the Beehive in Wellington.

Before 1996, the News service provided news to all commercial stations operated by Radio New Zealand as well as many independently owned stations. New owner The Radio Network launched its own news service.[27][28]

As well as on the hour news bulletins, the RNZ News service provides 24-hour programming schedule—programmes such as Morning Report with Susie Ferguson and Guyon Espiner, Nine to Noon with Kathryn Ryan and Midday Report.


  • Politics – Jane Patterson/Craig McCulloch/Jo Moir/Yvette McCullough/Charlie Dreaver
  • Business – Gyles Beckford/Nona Pelletier/Maddison Reidy
  • Health – Rowan Quinn
  • Education – John Gerritsen
  • Māori Affairs - Leigh-Marama McLachlan
  • Te Manu Korihi – Mani Dunlop/Te Aniwa Hurihanganui/Meriana Johnsen/Shannon Haunui-Thompson
  • Worldwatch - Max Towle/Annabel Reid

Regional Reporters:

  • Northland – Lois Williams
  • Waikato – Andrew McRae
  • Hawke's Bay – Anusha Bradley
  • Taranaki – Robin Martin
  • Nelson – Tracy Neal
  • Otago – Timothy Brown and Tess Brunton


The RNZ website, (formerly was launched in October 2005 and includes news coverage, programme information, online station streaming and podcasting. RNZ National, RNZ Concert, AM Network Parliament coverage, and RNZ International are available as Windows Media Audio streams. Almost all RNZ-produced programmes are available back to January 2008, and have MP3 and Ogg Vorbis and download and podcasts options. Some material is not available due to insufficient copyright clearances.

The website was awarded the Qantas Media Award for Best Website Design in 2007, a New Zealand Open Source Award in 2008,[29] New Zealand Radio Award for Best Radio Website in 2009, and ONYA awards for Best use of HTML and CSS and Best Accessibility in 2010.[30] The site was re-launched on 26 May 2013 with a new design and a custom CMS built using the open source Ruby On Rails framework.

A further redesign of the website along with a site re-launch happened in July 2016, and the domain was moved to in May 2019.[31]


In February 2020, it was announced by Music Content Director Willy Macalister and Chief Executive Paul Thompson that RNZ Concert was to undergo major changes: it would be moved from the FM to the AM frequency, streamed online and the current service replaced by an automated non-stop play format. Seventeen jobs would be lost from RNZ Music, including all the Concert programme presenters. It would be replaced on FM radio with music for a younger audience as part of a new multimedia music brand.[32]

The move was widely condemned across the New Zealand, with many people seeing it as a gutting of the arts in New Zealand.[33] Former Prime Minister Helen Clark issued a statement on Twitter saying that it "equates to a dumbing down of cultural life in NZ".[34] Thousands of protesters issued a petition.[35] The RNZ board reversed its decision when the government announced it would grant RNZ a third FM channel.[36]

Former commercial stations

Prior to 1996 Radio New Zealand operated a large number of commercial stations around New Zealand. These stations were typically local stations with their own local identity with the origin of many stations going back to the 1930s up until more recent stations created in the 1990s. Stations in the larger centres were usually local 24 hours a day, and stations in the smaller centres featured a mixture of part-local and part-networked programming.

In 1996 the New Zealand Government sold off all of their commercial stations to a syndicate that included United States radio company Clear Channel Communications and publisher Wilson & Horton, in New Zealand the new owner became known as The Radio Network.

The following stations were previously owned by Radio New Zealand, some listed stations were closed down before the 1996 sale and Gore radio station Radio Hokonui was sold privately in 1994.

Heritage Classic Hits and Newstalk ZB stations

All of the early local radio stations started by Radio New Zealand originally broadcast on an AM frequency. FM broadcasting did not begin in New Zealand until the 1980s. In the 1980s and early 1990s most stations listed below switched to an FM frequency but continued to broadcast on the original AM frequency. Some stations utilised the AM frequency for specialised shows such as local talkback, sports talk and local news shows. In 1993 the majority of these stations were split in two with the AM frequency used to broadcast Auckland based Newstalk ZB which was originally Auckland's 1ZB. The local station on the FM frequency adopted a common format and brand called Classic Hits with all stations retaining local programming under Radio New Zealand's operation.

Community stations

Radio New Zealand community stations operated in the heartland areas of New Zealand, typically these stations ran limited local programming such as a local breakfast show and at other times relayed a nearby station or relayed National Radio. Following the sale to The Radio Network most of these stations became part of the Community Radio Network with programming outside the breakfast show originating from Taupo. These stations later became part of the Classic Hits network in 2001.

ZM stations

Radio New Zealand operated a youth network of stations under the ZM brand with the three original stations being in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. The Auckland station 1ZM changed format in 1987 to Classic Hits leaving just the Wellington and Christchurch stations. Since the sale to The Radio Network ZM has been expanded to a nationwide network based in Auckland.

Sports Roundup

Sports Roundup was a network which conducted seasonal sports broadcasts in the main centres during the 1980s and 1990s, particularly used to broadcast Cricket matches in New Zealand. Following the sale to The Radio Network, Sports Roundup became known as Radio Sport, which went off the air permanently in 2020.

Other stations

See also


  1. ^ Pullar-Strecker, Tom (25 October 2017). "Labour confirms big picture policy on public media" . Stuff. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  2. ^ "Radio New Zealand chief executive appointed" . Radio New Zealand. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  3. ^ "About RNZ" . Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 29 June 2018.
  4. ^ "Radio New Zealand's Paul Thompson on the decline of radio" . June 2014.
  5. ^ Civil Defence Emergency Management Act 2002 (2002 No 30) Archived 17 July 2012 at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ Mediumwave Broadcasting Proposal PPT and PDF
  7. ^ Day, Patrick. Voice and Vision: A History of Broadcasting in New Zealand. Vol. 2. Auckland University Press, 2000.
  8. ^ Bell, Allan. "This Isn't the BBC: Colonialism in New Zealand English." Applied Linguistics 3.3 (1982): 246-258.
  9. ^ Bell, Allan, "Leaving Home: De-europeanisation in a post-colonial variety of broadcast news language." , Standard Languages and Language Standards in a Changing Europe. Oslo, Norway: Novus (2011): 177-198.
  10. ^ Radio New Zealand Act (No 2) 1995 (1995 No 53)
  11. ^ "New Zealand Legislation" . Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  12. ^ "New Zealand Legislation" . Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  13. ^ Radio New Zealand Act 1995 (1995 No 52)
  14. ^ Manhire, Toby (31 October 2013). "The Wireless: youth site a brave step into the net for Radio NZ" . New Zealand Listener. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  15. ^ "Switching on The Wireless" . The Big Idea. 31 October 2013. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  16. ^ Hurley, Emma (13 April 2014). "Broader casting" . Salient. Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  17. ^ "Home - The Wireless" . Retrieved 24 July 2014.
  18. ^ Showcase of The Wireless on the NZ On Air website
  19. ^ "About Radio NZ's new "millennial" venture, The Wireless" , guest post on Public Address
  20. ^ Greive, Duncan (15 December 2018). "RNZ in 2018: will well-meaning government interference end its dream run?" . The Spinoff. Retrieved 8 January 2020.
  21. ^ "RNZ Concert: a fresh take on the radio" . RNZ. 23 February 2018. Retrieved 20 May 2019.
  22. ^ "New Zealand Parliament House sitting programme" . New Zealand Government. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  23. ^ "About Southern Star" . Retrieved 9 June 2010.
  24. ^ "AM Network" . Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 10 June 2009.
  25. ^ "How To Listen" . 16 June 2021.
  26. ^ "Radio New Zealand : Series" . Radio New Zealand. Retrieved 28 November 2018.
  27. ^ Hope, Wayne. "New thoughts on the public sphere in Aotearoa New Zealand." Scooped: The politics and power of journalism in Aotearoa New Zealand (2012): 27-47.
  28. ^ Norris, Paul, and Margie Comrie. "Changes in radio news 1994-2004." The great New Zealand radio experiment (2005): 175-194.
  29. ^ "Previous Finalists and Winners - 2008 Winners" . New Zealand Open Source Awards. New Zealand Open Source Society. Archived from the original on 24 November 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2011.
  30. ^ "ONYA Awards for Radio New Zealand | Scoop News" . Retrieved 30 November 2018.
  31. ^ "RNZ has moved to" . RNZ. 14 May 2019. Retrieved 14 May 2019.
  32. ^ Donnell, Hayden (5 February 2020). "RNZ set to cut back Concert and launch new youth service" . RNZ. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  33. ^ "Dame Kiri te Kanawa calls RNZ proposal to dial down Concert an 'inestimable blow to the arts'" . Stuff. 6 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  34. ^
  35. ^ "Axing of Concert FM 'disenfranchising' for older RNZ listeners" . Stuff. 7 February 2020. Retrieved 7 February 2020.
  36. ^ "RNZ board backs down, Concert to stay on FM" . Retrieved 15 May 2020.

External links


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