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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Thursday, May 24, 2007

TVNZ shows lack of charter understanding

A public policy specialist says Television New Zealand chief executive Rick Ellis's comments on Maori participation shows how the state broadcaster has failed to understand its charter obligations.

Mr Ellis told a parliamentary select committee that Maori actors or presenters in shows like Shortland Street and as Police 10-7 help fulfill the charter goal to represent a Maori perspective.

David Hay, who helped draft the Maori Council's submissions in the 1992 Broadcasting Assets case, says that case established the need for both autonomy and equity in Maori broadcasting.

He says while autonomy can be met by the Maori Television service, equity requires regular Maori programming on mainstream channels to encourage understanding between Maori and Pakeha.

“You'd think that some of that understanding between Maori and Pakeha would have been encouraged through the mainstream media and the reality is the government had to pass the legislation around the charter in order to basically tell TVNMZ to get in touch with what’s going on in New Zealand society, and I think Rick Ellis’s comments tell us TVNZ has pretty much failed to do that,” Mr Hay says.

He says the Television New Zealand board is too commercially-focused, and it needs some members who understand New Zealand society and culture and can drive the charter into the company.


The Maori Party says a report into the way Te Puni Kokiri administers its grant programmes shows how run down the ministry's monitoring function has become.

The Auditor General looked at 15 million dollars of grants delivered through five programmes and found scant checks for conflicts of interest and little evidence of monitoring once the money was paid over.

Grants were assessed the same way, whether they were for $600 or $600,000.

Waiariki MP Te Ururoa Flavell says the report is a damning indictment of the Maori development ministry.

“They talk about instances of contracts that have been signed before they were checked by TPK legal team. They talk about many instances where recipients did not submit any reports as required under the funding contracts, so most of the procedures you would expect, because TPK has been around and has been a government agency for some time, you would expect them to be in place. The question is, are they being followed through by TPK staff, and the Auditor General says no,” Mr Flavell says.


Former All Black Norm Hewitt and former prison manager Celia Lashlie are in Ngaruawahia tonight talking about how to inspire the community's rangatahi.

It's the seventeenth such presentation the pair have given over the past year, and Mr Hewitt says it's about unlocking the answers which lie in every community.

He says the saying that it takes a village to raise a child still has a lot of truth in it.

“He tangata, he tangata, he tangata is the key to helping our young people. Celia talks to the wahine, I talk to the men, and collectively we talk to our rangatahi, so what could be more simple than just that,” Mr Hewitt says.


National Party leader John Key says the Kiwi Saver scheme will transfer wealth from Maori to wealthy New Zealanders.

Mr Key says Maori are over-represented among low and middle income earners, who stand to get less out of the scheme from higher earners, and are less likely to join up.

He says Finance Minister Michael Cullen is asking all New Zealand workers to forego tax cuts and pay increases to pay for the new pension scheme.

“What that means is lower to middle income New Zealanders will cross subsidise higher income New Zealanders who are already saving. For the Maori population, that means for a lot of them, they won’t be getting any from Kiwisavers but what they will be doing is having lower wages to cross subsidise higher income New Zealanders and for me that just doesn't make sense,” Mr Key says.


The head of Massey University's College of Education says more needs to be done to encourage men, and particularly Maori men, into teaching.

James Chapman says research is needed into the reasons behind the low number of men graduating as teachers.

Men made up less than 10 percent of the latest group of early childhood and primary teachers to graduate from Massey.

Professor Chapman says the government isn't doing enough.

“I would like to see a greater degree of proactivity on the part of government in terms of attracting Maori into teaching, both male and female, but especially male. I would like to see more proactivity around supporting Maori who are competent in te reo coming in to Maori immersion teacher training programmes,” Professor Chapman says.

The lack of strong Maori male role models in schools is unfortunate and unhealthy for children's education.


A Christchurch school wants to set up a bilingual unit, something that's fairly uncommon in te Wai Pounamu.

Stephanie Thompson, the principal of Aorangi School in Bryndwr, says parents are being approached this term to see if they would like their child to be part of the bilingual class.

Ms Thompson says it will try to build on language skills already present in families.

She says the bilingual unit fits in with the school's four guiding principles.

“They are being inclusive, multiculturalism, building capacity with their community, and having an innovative curriculum,. Setting up the bilingual unit strengthens all of those foundations. Here at Aorangi we’re quite a diverse, multicultural community, and it’s important that ewe celebrate and strengthen that, and again that’s part of what the bilingual unit is about,” Ms Thompson says.

Aorangi will investigate whether the unit will qualify for any of the extra $102 million dollars in the budget for building kura.


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