Race Relation Commissioner backs Māori Party over TVNZ exclusion

By Taroi Black

Race Relations Commissioner Meng Foon says the Māori Party should be included in the TVNZ multi-party pre-election debates.

He was commenting after it was revealed that only New Zealand First, the Green Party and Act have been chosen to participate. The Māori Party has argued this is a racist decision and demanded it is added to the debate.

“This is an important issue for all. I am supporting the Māori Party in its view [of TV1] for excluding it from the debates,” Foon says.   

Māori Party co-leader John Tamihere posted on social media that his party has been treated like a second-class citizen.  

Foon says The Māori  Party is the only one that specifically covers Māori issues and is fully represented on the Māori roll.

Tamihere has been invited to speak to young Māori voters at Auckland University and he still wants to participate in the TVNZ debates. 

Blatant racism?

“There is discrimination in this country and it has to be called out - this is just blatant racism and it needs to be sorted out,” Tamihere says.

TVNZ acting head of news and current affairs Graeme Muir says the criteria are~not based on an assessment of credible pathways into Parliament.

"It is based on current representation in Parliament or a 3% polling threshold. We're concerned with applying this debate criteria in an even-handedly way and keeping the criteria consistent from election to election to provide surety for parties.”

“Our debate is a nationwide broadcast and so is concerned with the party vote. Like other media, we do not poll in individual electorates and so can't make fair assessments there.”

“We have covered the Māori Party in our election coverage. We'll continue to do this in the leadup to the general election.”