Kōhanga Reo National Trust calls out media misrepresentation of Māori

By Bronson Perich, Kereama Wright, Taiha Molyneux

NB: The interviews relating to this article were conducted in te reo Māori. The quotations in italic bold type are verbatim. Contextual translation is given directly below each quote.

The Kōhanga Reo National Trust says an image used by some mainstream media outlets in a story detailing a harrowing case of child abuse 'shows significant ignorance around the reporting and stereotyping of child abuse within Aotearoa.'

The image prompted a complaint from the Trust and while Newshub and Stuff agreed to remove it, representatives of the Kōhanga Reo National Trust and members of the wider Māori community aren't convinced it will prompt genuine change.

Renata Kururangi. Source/File.

Renata Kururangi of Te Kōhanga Reo National Trust says apology and changes aside, this is one of many examples of a serious lack of knowledge and a complete unwillingness to understand the impact  'media mishaps' can have on how Māori communities are viewed overall.

"Nā reira koina anō mātou whakahēngia atu, haunga atu wā rātou pāwaha mai kua tango mai ēnā whakaahua engari....e hoa mā e hika whakaarohia ake koinei anō tēnei ao kei te noho tahi tātou engari anō rā tātou noho wehe atu ai i roto i ēnei tū āhuatanga  e ai ki a ētahi kare i te whakaarohia."

Kururangi says Kōhanga Reo does not tolerate abuse in any form, physical, verbal, emotional or otherwise. Te Kōhanga Reo kaupapa and their kaimahi around the country work tirelessly to give whānau the tools to create better opportunities for whānau through a Māori framework of living, based on the key philosophies of whānau and whanaungatanga.

"To hear of any child being abused is distressing to us all, and Kōhanga reo has in many cases changed the lives of families by creating a non-judgmental environment for children and whānau to be fostered."

“He mea hākiki tēnā whakaahua i ngā mahi, i pikautia nei e ngā tīpuna, e ngā mātua, e ngā whānau i ngā mahi i pikautia rātou ki roto i ngā kōhanga reo.

"Nā reira ka noho rā mātou ki te aha. Mehemea ka panui atu i te whakaahua ka puta te whakaaro koira te āhua o te kōhanga reo, te tūkino tamaiti".

Renata Kururangi says, even though the image is gone anyone who had read or seen it or just happened to scroll over it will no doubt inherently link Kōhanga Reo and child abuse.

Tini Molyneux. Source/File.

A long time veteran of broadcasting says over and over again Māori are confronted with things like this. Tini Molyneux says;

"Me āta whakaaro pea te hunga pāpāoho Pākehā. He aha te kaupapa e whaia ana e rātou. Ko te whakahāwea i te iwi maori, ko te whakarata i te hunga kia huri atu ki te pānui i ā rātou kaupapa. Nā te mea he āhuatanga Māori kei roto."

"Mainstream media needs to take a good hard look at themselves, and think about why they're actually including Māori imagery or language or references their stories, and be mindful of how often they use it in positive and negative stories."

Kururangi continues;

"I mohio pai te āhua o wēnā tāngata, me ngā rangatira e titiro atu ki aua whakaahua, kare e whakaaorohia ake. Ka puta te whakaaro, hāngai tonu atu koropu nei, koina te āhua o te kōhanga reo."

Kōhanga Reo want the opportunity to show the masses, how they really operate. Kururangi says;

"Kei a mātou kōrero ki roto anō i tērā tū āhuatanga, kare i te tautoko. Ae marika! Kare i te tautoko i ērā tū āhuatanga! Ko ā tātou mahi, he mea atawhai ā tātou tamariki mokopuna, manaakitia hoki rā ki roto i te ukaipo, tipu ai i roto anō i te tū tāngata."

Molyneux concludes;

"E kore pea e taea e te iwi Māori te whakatikatika i a rātou. Engari ka taea e te Maori ki te tuhituhi i ngā hapa e mahi ana mō tērā āhua"

"Perhaps Māori will never be able to change the mainstream perspective. But we can call them out and hold them to account when they get things wrong and we should keep doing so."

Te Ao news reached out to Media Works who are yet to respond. But Stuff Wellington Editor, Eric Janssen provided the statement below:

"The photo was used to illustrate the location, Ramsey Cres. When a complaint was received about the ‘juxtaposition’, we removed the photo as a courtesy.

"Beyond that we have no comment."