23 Oct 2014

TVNZ opts out of Maori, Pacific shows

8:25 pm on 23 October 2014

Up to 40 jobs could be on the line following Television New Zealand's (TVNZ) decision to contract out its Maori and Pacific programmes to independent producers.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick. Photo: RNZ

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick today said the move would align Maori and Pacific programmes such as Marae, Waka Huia, Fresh and Tagata Pasifika with other TVNZ-commissioned local productions. The exception would be news programme Te Karere.

Tagata Pasifika executive producer Stephen Stehlin said he was confident his unit would end up making the programme independently.

But he said they expected to be made redundant, along with up to 30 staff on the other programmes.

"The timeframe and exactly how that might happen has not yet been determined but I guess it will be a proper and seemly way of continuing a relationship," Mr Stehlin said.

"It's just we will not be inside TVNZ."

The decision to put Tagata Pasifika out to tender was a shock because it had just won New Zealand On Air funding for 50 shows next year, he said.

He was also concered TVNZ would end up "very white".

"When you take out 30 or 40 Maori and Pacific people, you end with a very white organisation and, in the 21st century, I don't think that that's a very good look," he said.

"So if I was the board of TVNZ I would be looking very firmly at a strong programme of diversity."

Mr Kenrick said TVNZ remained fully committed to reflecting New Zealand's unique cultural identity and diversity on screen but wanted to step aside from in-house production.

Discussion about the likely changes with staff, funders and production partners would start today, he said.

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