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Location: Auckland, New Zealand

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Maori Television takes on tuakana

A war of words has broken out between the state broadcaster TVNZ and new boy on the block Maori Television.

At the weekend Maori Television chief executive Jim Mather called for his service to get all the funding available from Te Mangai Paho to make Maori programmes, which could then be redistributed to other channels.

TVNZ's head of Maori programmes Paora Maxwell accused him of a lack of respect, saying the state broadcaster remained the tuakana.

Mr Mather says he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful of the Maori department at TVNZ.

He says Mr Maxwell is being overly sensitive about the matter.

“I don't agree with this tuakana-teina thing Paora is espousing, the older and the junior whanau members, and we are a relatively new arrival on the broadcast scene but I don’t think that should stand in the way of exploring other more innovative ideas and solutions,” Mr Mather says.

He says it makes sense that Maori TV should be the sole commissioner, sole acquirer and sole in house producer of Maori programming because of its lower cost structure and primary focus on Maori programming.

He says for a number of years Maori TV capped its programming at $40,000 per hour which was very cost effective compared to the average costs at TVNZ of $120,000 an hour.


Labour leader Phil Goff is predicting the ownership of water will become an important issue for discussion between Maori and the Crown in a similar way that the foreshore and seabed issues have has been worked through.

A weekend hui of Ngati Kahungunu decided that ownership of water has never been ceded to the Crown by Maori.

Phil Goff says issues such as ownership of water can be worked through to get a win win situation.

“The best thing to do on all of these issues is to sit down. Talk through the issues, try to find some common ground, try to sort out the uncertainties, and try to reach a resolution that is fair to both sides In the end with foreshore and seabed’s, we have the certainty now of access, but we also have the mechanism for negotiation s customary rights can be recognised and recognised in a stronger way than in earlier legislation,” Mr Goff says.


Speculation that outspoken Maori Party MP Hone Harawira will quit the party and stand as an independent at the next election has been squashed by the Tai Tokerau MP.

Earlier this week TV3 political commentator Duncan Garner suggested that Mr Harawira's backing of his whanau members who have been charged with assaulting Prime Minister John Key at Waitangi would get him offside with the party's caucus.

However Hone Harawira says there is absolutely no truth to the speculation that he is considering becoming an independent.

“I am a happily focused member of the Maori Party caucus. Sure we have differences of opinion, and those won’t change today or tomorrow or the week after or the week after that,” Mr Harawira says.

He says supporting whanau is one of the major planks of the Maori Party, and the internal criticism was not about of his seeking a meeting between the brothers and John Key but not following the due process of the law.


Maori television is keeping up to date with the way people access their programming.

The broadcaster is launching an upgraded website today at its fifth birthday celebrations in Wellington, along with the release of its economic and social research report.

Chief executive Jim Mather says enabling up to 330 hours of programming on demand to web viewers is a way of recognising that viewing habits are changing.

“We're endeavouring to ensure our programming is accessible to as many Maori, as many New Zealanders, and in fact as many other people as we can get to watch Maori Television via different types of platforms, and its clear that over time the Internet will become even more pervasive,” Mr Mather says.


And Labour leader Phil Goff says across town the government's dropping of TVNZ's charter runs the risk of New Zealanders not getting quality programmes and a Maori perspective in broadcasting.

Phil Goff says the charter introduced by Labour was about more New Zealand programming so that we could emphasis New Zealand's identity rather just importing programmes from elsewhere.

“What this does is decrease the quality of New Zealand programming and decrease the quality and effectiveness of our news and current affairs services and I think that’s a real pity. We need to emphasise our identity. We need to have a strong news and current affairs network so the Government can be subject to scrutiny, can be held to account,” Mr Goff says.


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