19 Jul 2020

Broadcaster and NZME apologise to John Tamihere

From Mediawatch, 8:00 am on 19 July 2020

NZME broadcaster Mike Hosking apologised on air this week for "reckless" claims about John Tamihere and Whānau Ora funding. It was part of a confidential settlement which the Māori Party's co-leader says he will use to fund his party's upcoming election campaign.

John Tamihere outside Auckland High Court.

Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Newstalk ZB host Mike Hosking and New Zealand Herald publisher NZME apologised to John Tamihere on the air this morning. 

In proceedings filed in the High Court last year, lawyers acting for John Tamihere - who was a candidate for the job of mayor of Auckland - alleged Mike Hosking broadcast claims on Newstalk ZB which "recklessly" defamed Mr Tamihere in December 2018. 

The comments concerned public money for Whanau Ora initiatives.

The claims were also aired in a ‘Mike’s Minute’ online video and published in the New Zealand Herald under the headline "600,000 questions about this Whānau Ora payout."

In this morning's apology Mike Hosking said Newstalk ZB accepts that the North Island Whānau Ora commissioning agency Te Pou Matakana was entitled to receive the funds from Te Puni Kōkiri and there was nothing improper about payments it made.

"The way in which the item was worded could have been taken to mean that John Tamihere personally benefited from the payments," he said.

"Newstalk ZB accepts that Tamihere did not benefit personally from the payments and sincerely apologises to John Tamihere, he added. 

Three days after the broadcast and publication of the comments in December 2018, Mike Hosking published a clarification after a subsequent Mike’s Minute comment on the Newstalk ZB website

He said he had received a letter from John Tamihere.

“He believed I insinuated on Tuesday that he had improperly received $600,000 of Crown money,” said Mike Hosking. 

“I was talking about a surplus payment that was made to the National Urban Maori Authority, and not to Tamihere personally. My point was whether the money would have been better put back into the next round of funding from the Ministry for Social Development for other work,” he added. 

Mike Hosking and the Herald’s parent company NZME contested Tamihere's claim of defamation in court last year. A High Court judge ruled last September Mr Tamihere was entitled to costs. 

The apology was also read out in court on Wednesday too - but not by Mike Hosking who was on holiday 

A lawyer for NZME did it instead. 

But John Tamihere was there to hear it - and to tell reporters outside he believed he was a victim of “racial stereotyping”: 

He went on to say all this could have been sorted over s couple of beers but NZME was not willing.  

The net result of going through the process undisclosed settlement  would be a "substantial donation" to the Maori Party of which he is now a co-leader, he told reporters.