Maōri Broadcasting Minister calls on media to apologise to Māori

By Rukuwai Tipene-Allen

Maōri Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson is calling out media outlets on their racism, a day after New Zealand's largest media company, the privately owned Stuff owned up to 160 years of racist reporting and promised to set up a Treaty of Waitangi charter to work by.

"Mainstream media have got a lot to answer for in terms of coverage of Māori issues," Jackson says. " It's a shame the New Zealand Herald doesn't take it up too, Mike Hoskings and a number of other groups that owe Māori an apology."

And Minister for Children Kelvin Davis says "There is this narrative built up about Māori and I think it's unfair."

The narrative Davis is speaking of may be the description of Māori as child abusers, as useless, as the bottom of the barrel, which Stuff has admitted it may have done historically.

The Te Tai Tokerau MP says "We know that's just not true but that's not what the rest of the country is hearing about us. I think that it does build those prejudices about Māoridom."

However, Broadcasting Minister Kris Faafoi says the government won't be asking state-owned media to assess themselves. "I'm not going to force that upon them. I think if they've seen what Stuff has done and want to take it on themselves to do, then that's up to them," Faafoi says.

Primetime not just the mihi

National Party leader Judith Collins has her own views on the media: "You know I think there's a lot of things the media could apologise for. Racism is one of them."

Her deputy, Shane Reti, acknowledged the apology from the media company and said "I think the media that came out yesterday may be a leading position for others to follow".

Those sentiments are shared by Labour's Foreign Affairs Minister, Nanaia Mahuta. "He tauira tērā te whakapāha a stuff ki ngā kaupapa māori me ngā āhuatanga o ngā kairipoata."

However, former broadcaster and Labour list MP Tamati Coffey says it's up to the consumer. 

"As consumers of media, you choose which organisation you're going to turn your television on from in the morning, which newspapers you read and that's a demonstration of your support for that particular organisation."

Jackson says there needs to be more for Māori. " We want to see Māori in primetime position rather than just the mihi people on the side." 

Mainstream says no need

Te Ao Māori News asked other media organisations if they planned a racism review and whether findings of racism would prompt an apology. 

TV3 responded saying, "The importance of fair and balanced portrayal across all ethnicities remains paramount across our reporting. In Aotearoa, we recognise the importance of having Maori voices and faces across all areas of our business, including on air and this is something we are continually working on and committed to."

NZME, which owns the NZ Herald, plus regional papers and a deals website, says"NZME has been open about the challenges it is facing up to in terms of our news reporting on issues facing Māori. In June this year, the New Zealand Herald published an in-depth piece by columnist Teuila Fuatai – Teuila explored the Herald’s failure to properly examine how racism plays a role in the organisation. In response to the column (also published) the New Zealand Herald Editor Murray Kirkness accepted the criticism, and also accepted the New Zealand Herald “must do better”.

The media company also mentioned the contribution to the government's vision of one million speakers of basic Te Reo Māori by 2040 through the iHeart Radio app and itsnew partnership with Māori Television that will see journalism and content shared between the New Zealand Herald (NZME) and Te Ao Māori (Māori Television).

Media Works also issued a statement to Māori Television saying, "We applaud the Stuff campaign and the approach they’ve taken to address bias reporting of the past. While MediaWorks does not hold archives of historical radio programming, we are committed to and pride ourselves on our standards of responsible, fair and balanced content and continue to play an important role in New Zealand’s cultural landscape.

"Of course, we acknowledge that there’s more that can be done, and we are actively engaged in promoting Te Reo Māori and Māori culture in our programming, including our recent partnership with Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei to launch a digital campaign and radio competition with the aim of integrating Te Reo into everyday life."