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About Us

The Alliance aims to promote, develop, foster, and support community access broadcasting in Aotearoa. CAMA sees itself primarily as a self-support network for the sector and a forum for debate on issues that affect us all. It also exists as a lobbying and resourcing organisation for the benefit of member stations.

An annual conference, held alternately by stations in the CAMA group, brings together staff and programme makers to network, attend workshops, and celebrate the access sector.

CAMA has an executive committee (chair, secretary, and treasurer) who are voted into position by the membership annually at the conference. Thanks to the help of NZ On Air the association also has a national representative, whose task is to champion all things access media.

Community access broadcasting is by, for, and about the community. CAMA stations provide a platform for people to get their voices heard. Programmes are made by diverse people and groups who aren’t traditionally given a voice in mainstream media.

Stations primarily broadcast content subject to 36c of the Broadcasting Act, which aims “to ensure that a range of broadcasts is available to provide for the interests of women, youth, children, persons with disabilities, minorities in the community including ethnic minorities, and to encourage a range of broadcasts that reflects the diverse religious and ethical beliefs of New Zealanders”.

  • seeking income from non-advertising sources such as airtime charges, sponsorship, endowments, and grants, for example. Each station is a not-for-profit organisation;
  • providing what other stations do not or cannot provide;
  • having a focus on getting the community involved in producing content and to reflect that community in its programming;
  • having multiple target audiences i.e. each programme is made to reach a different audience; 
  • having a small paid staff;
  • having voices on air that reflect the nature of the community and the programmes broadcast. They will differ, sometimes quite radically. Continuity announcers are encouraged to use their voices naturally;
  • being diverse in programming, human resources, and language;
  • having stations that are open and inclusive to all people into its workspace;
  • providing training and education on the skills of broadcasting for all interested people;
  • broadcasting a wide range of ideas, opinions, and beliefs; and 
  • being a community resource.
  • It’s not a commercial station using commercial radio formats and other commercial programming elements, for example a breakfast show or drive time. 
  • It’s not a for-profit organisation.
  • News or current affairs is not a part of stations’ core business.
  • It doesn’t place a priority on radio commercials in their traditional formats as a source of revenue. 
  • It’s not a place where ‘down time’ is filled by volunteers coming in and playing at being DJs spinning their own tunes.
  • It doesn’t have a single target audience.

Access media stations receive funding from NZ On Air to broadcast content under section 36c of the Broadcasting Act (1989).

The year the Broadcasting Act was introduced a Ministerial Directive was issued requiring NZ On Air to undertake specific funding commitments, including the funding of access media. The directive says that it’s a part of the general policy of the government that access media services should be available for a broad range of non-profit community groups.

Thanks to the legislation and directive, community access radio in Aotearoa enjoys a level of state funding and support that would be the envy of access media in most other jurisdictions.

See the Ministry for Culture and Heritage regional and community broadcasting policy framework (July 2006) for more.

In 2016, NZ On Air commissioned Colmar Brunton to carry out a qualitative piece of research to understand and explore how access media meets the needs. See report.

The history of access media programming in New Zealand starts in 1982. Radio New Zealand responded to pressure from Wellington-based ethnic groups seeking more minority issues programming and minority language programming on radio by setting up a separate radio programme. It broadcast the programme on the high-powered AM frequency used for parliamentary broadcasts during the hours when parliament was not broadcasting. Wellington Access Radio began broadcasting on 986AM in August 1982. The first access radio manager was Cindy Beavis.

Broadcasting legislation in 1988 deregulated the industry. Other than for Radio New Zealand and Concert, all other state broadcasting activities were required to act as commercial entities competing against private broadcasting to maximise profit and return dividends to the government. The commercial stations of Radio New Zealand were also required to act commercially. They were later sold off to overseas broadcasting interests.

The Government moved the ‘social and cultural’ responsibilities of broadcasting to a new funding provider established under the Act as the Broadcasting Commission and renamed NZ On Air in 1989. This structure was radical and a world-first. 

Combining the requirements of the Broadcasting Act with a ministerial directive NZ On Air has developed a policy of meeting many of its legislative requirements through funding access media.


Sharing the Mic: Community Access Radio in Aotearoa New Zealand by Brian Pauling and Bronwyn Beatty was released in 2021.

Sharing the Mic tells the stories of the volunteers, staff and managers at the heart of access media and its vibrant 40-year history.

To get yourself a copy, click here.


For media or general enquiries, contact: camaaotearoa@gmail.com.