RNZ/TVNZ merger raises questions about Māori broadcasting future

By Regan Paranihi

A merger between Radio New Zealand and Television New Zealand is believed to be on the cards in the coming years following a super-sized public broadcasting decision by Cabinet this week.

While nothing has been set in concrete this announcement leaves the Māori broadcasting sector with many questions and concerns.

While this decision doesn't directly impact Māori broadcasting, the Chair of Ngā Aho Whakaari, Hineani Melbourne, says she's concerned for what it means for Māori broadcasting overall. 

"I know this is separate from the Māori sector screen review but it still raises those questions what's going to happen to Māori and what's going to be our place at the table."

Her concerns stem from many years of hard work to get Māori its own entity in the screen industry.

"We're very worried about what's going to happen to Māori Television and iwi radio stations as well they have a specific market that has never been catered for by mainstream.  Organisations like Radio New Zealand and TVNZ which is why we fought so long and hard for Māori television and iwi radio stations as well."

While the Māori Broadcasting sector continues through its process, Melbourne still emphasises a need to have more Māori in the decision-making space within the public sector. 

"We have a right to be at that table we have a right to have our opinions heard because we are treaty partners and broadcasting is such an important role in this nation."

Melbourne wants clarity around the future for Māori media and hopes the recent decision does not impact funding for Māori. 

"We don't want to be just receiving the crumbs from the table again as we always have been receiving the crumbs from the table.

“So this is what we're asking Nanaia Mahuta, that we'd like to know, where does this put Māori broadcasting, Māori media."

Minister Mahuta told Te Ao that they are still engaging with the sector to find a way forward and a decision around Māori Broadcasting will be made next month.