Waatea News Update

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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Forced marriage for rugby rights bid

Maori Television was today talking with TVNZ and TV3 about a joint approach to broadcast the Rugby World Cup.

The grand coalition appears to have been brokered by Prime Minister John Key and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples after the Maori Party leader publicly expressed his fury at the Government ordering TVNZ back into the bidding process.

MTS chief executive Jim Mather says Maori Television's bid was serious and credible, and it remains a live option.

“We're also going to listen intently to what the other consortium, TYVNZ and TV3 have developed. They want to engage with us so we will listen to what they have to say but we are very conscious of the fact we have committed to not colluding with any other parties and putting in a bid that is standalone and separate and we want to ensure the integrity of our bid is retained,” Mr Mather says.

He's upset material provided in confidence at the request of government ministers appears to have passed on to TVNZ.


Meanwhile, a Maori economic expert says iwi shouldn't consider investing in Maori Television's Rugby World Cup coverage bid without a solid business case.

The idea was raised by Ngati Kahungunu chair Ngahiwi Tomoana, who suggested iwi could help Maori Television beat any TVNZ offer.

But Pare Keiha, the pro-vice chancellor for Maori advancement at AUT University, says the idea iwi have cash lying around to invest in such a project is fanciful.

He says iwi leader have an obligation to manage their assets for the benefit of present and future generations.

“The fundamental issue is whether it’s private money or money held on behalf of others and I‘d be concerned if any iwi money which is essentially not private was to be used for some investment that was less than prudent, that was not the product of a business plan and more importantly was not clear on its outcomes to those for whom the assets are being held in trust for,” Professor Keiha says.

If the argument is that hosting the Rugby World Cup should benefit Maori, then that benefit should come across the whole government sector and host broadcaster, and not be left to Te Puni Kokiri and Maori Television.


The head of Maori organic growers association Te Waka Kaiora says Maori need to take advantage of a plan to reinstate gardens around marae.

Te Puni Kokiri is offering marae $2000 to establish mara kai, which can be used to grow vegetables for the use of the marae or surrounding community.

Percy Tipene says too many Maori have lost their connection to their own whenua, and the mara kai will help get their hands back into the soil.


Whatever the outcome of talks between Maori Television and its free to air rivals over a joint bid to broadcast the rugby world cup, the row has soured relations between the Maori service and key ministers.

Talks started today after Prime Minister John Key overrode Broadcasting Minister Jonathan Coleman's promise of financial support for TVNZ to re-enter the bidding process.

MTS chief executive Jim Mather says the government was well aware of what his channel was proposing with backing from Te Puni Kokiri.

“We were requested to present our information in various ministerial meetings. We did so in good faith and we find now that there’s a strong likelihood that commercially confidential information got passed on to a competitor we weren’t aware was going to be a competitor in the process,” Mr Maher says.

The International Rugby Board had ruled out consortia bids or sub-letting of broadcast rights, so any joint bid would need its approval to proceed.


Retiring Maori Party president Whatarangi Winiata says it's important the party continues its partnership with the National-led government.

74 year old Professor Winiata, who has been president since the party was formed in 2004, lists failing to get Maori seats on the Auckland super city and the treatment of Maori Television's Rugby World Cup bid count as major set backs.

But he says party hasn't lost sight of its objective to get Treaty issues resolved.

“The partnership between the Maori Party and National is I think one of the highlights in the life of the Maori Party. We saw it as a way of achieving reconciliation, and the Pakeha signatory, the Crown has simply assumed power will beyond what was thought about by our people, but they did know there would be tension,” Professor Winiata says.

Positives so far include the review of the foreshore and seabed act and Nationa's promise of a constitutional review.

Professor Winiata is off to the United States to further his studies.


Tonight's rugby league test against Tonga in Rotorua will be the debut for three young Maori players.

They include Australian-born Bulldogs' winger Bryson Goodwin, who qualifies through his grandmother's Waikato whakapapa and Warrior Kevin Locke of Hauraki and Ngapuhi descent.

Gordon Gibbons, the Kiwi's team manager, says there was a special thrill for the third debutante, Rotorua-born Manly Sea Eagles back rower Jared Waerea-Hargeaves, who was asked to receive the challenge at last night’s civic reception – in which many of his relatives were involved.

He says the trio played their way into the team through excellent form in the NRL.

After tonight's test the team will travel to England for the four nations competition.


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