When Rocky Roberts (Kāi Tahu) left high school he had no idea what he wanted to study. Apart from his childhood dream of wanting to become an All Black, Rocky says he had no aspirations growing up.

“I’ve been slow getting off the mark in things like learning te reo Māori and getting into broadcasting; I didn’t start broadcasting until I was 36 or 37,” he says.

Rocky, now 47, was born and raised in Westport (Kawatiri) but his whānau are originally from Kaikōura. His parents and two of his three brothers still reside on the West Coast while he and his partner, Kelli Tuuta ( Ngāti Mutunga/Taranaki) and his son, Monahan (Monnie) Tuuta-Roberts, live in Christchurch.

It was Rocky’s passion for sport that sparked his interest in broadcasting. He studied and trained at the New Zealand Broadcasting School (Te Kura Pāpaho o Aotearoa) in Ōtautahi and prior to joining the team at Tahu FM, he worked at Radio Network, where he wrote advertisements and worked as a sports commentator.

When Tahu FM advertised for a new announcer, it was perfect timing.
“Everything happened at once – I got my degree working in radio, I became interested in learning te reo and Māoritanga and then this opportunity came,” he says.

Rocky has worked at Tahu FM for a year where he is one of the hosts of the Big Breakfast show. He says he is extremely lucky to have Sheree Waitoa (aka Sista) as the co-host of their show, as she has encouraged him to learn more te reo and to use it in their work environment.

“At the moment I’m learning, learning, learning, because it’s a tool I need for work. If I was a builder I’d need a hammer and a saw but here I need te reo Māori,” he says.

Rocky grew up in a household that did not speak te reo and as a result he has been actively learning the language on and off for years. Both his partner Kelli and their son Monnie speak te reo and Rocky says he’s been keen to set a good example for his son by learning more. He is also completing studies twice a week at Canterbury University, where he studies under Associate Professor Te Maire Tau, learning about Ngāi Tahu iwi history.

In his spare time Rocky plays social softball for the Kapatata softball club. He also enjoys taking his son back to Westport to see their whānau.
“Once you get kids, it’s kind of like their interests become your interests and their interests become a little bit more important than yours,” he says.

Rocky Roberts – getting te reo sussed.

Rocky Roberts – getting te reo sussed.