Māori Television face Māori Affairs Select Committee

By Tema Hemi

Māori Television and its newly elected board were placed under the microscope today during the broadcasters annual financial review with the Māori Affairs Select Committee.  

Since its establishment 14 years ago, Māori Television has never received an increase in operational funding.

Members of the select committee asked probing questions regarding funding and content output.

Māori Affairs Select Committee member Melissa Lee outlined mainstream media providers shifting towards delivering more 'te reo Māori' content and questioned what further point of difference Māori Television could provide.

Ms Lee outlined, "All of the media are using 'te reo' so how do you actually feel about that, do you think your uniqueness has lessened as a result?" 

Interim CEO of Māori Television Shane Taurima responded by outlining the rapid decline of te reo Māori speakers and highlighted the fact that other broadcasters embracing te reo content provided an ample opportunity to collaborate and deliver high quality engaging content that embraced te reo me ōna tikanga.

"We must work cohesively but all I have to say is to let broadcasters do the broadcasting, Te Taura Whiri have their responsibilities, Te Puni Kōkiri has theirs, and Te Māngai Pāho. We all have our roles in terms of future of the language."

Mr Taurima also outlined that changes had already been implemented and the difference was already visible in terms of audience numbers.

"From that time to this month and last month in February, viewer numbers have increased online, on the linear show also and it's up by 69%. That's a huge increase."

While a newly elected board and interim CEO sat in front of the select committee - many probing questions regarding previous decisions were directed at Māori Television representatives.

Many of the questions asking around the broadcasters move from Newmarket to East Tāmaki.

In response, Taurima outlined, "it was at a time that I wasn't present and also the current chairman of the board. We have come here to answer the many questions based on a time that we both were not here. But its fine because some of the issues being raised are issues we are working out at this time."

The Minister of Māori Development tasked with leading the current Media Sector Shift review, Nanaia Mahuta outlined that the future should remain the focus for those leading Māori Television into the future "That was an issue for the old board and government to resolve because it was them that authorised this move."

To strengthen the work being done, next week the board will advertise the CEO position for Māori Television.