13 Dec 2014

TVNZ set to sign outsourcing deals

6:18 am on 13 December 2014

Television New Zealand (TVNZ)'s Pacific programmes look set to be outsourced to the same people who already make them.

TVNZ announced yesterday that it was negotiating with four independent production companies to make Tagata Pasifika and Fresh, and its Maori programmes Marae and Waka Huia.

If agreement is reached, Fresh would be made by Tiki Lounge, the company of current producer Lisa Taouma.

Tagata Pasifika would be taken over by a new company set up by Maori and Pacific programmes staff and led by executive producer Stephen Stehlin, who said it was exactly what they wanted.

"Whereas before there was one little company, there are now two. They will become two sizeable companies and that's just created more capacity in the Pacific Island television industry so I'm very pleased about that."

Mr Stehlin expected an agreement between his new company and TVNZ to be finalised next week.

He said 30 Maori and Pacific programmes staff expected to be made redundant, including the eight in his unit.

"Before we go on leave there will be redundancies on a one-to-one basis with every member of the staff of Maori and Pacific programmes. They have promised us that by the end of next week we will all have a letter."

Mr Stehlin expected Tagata Pasifika's eight full-time staff would move to his new company and he understood the same would happen with the other programmes.

TVNZ said all four companies had expressed willingness to take on existing staff.

The Pacific Islands Media Association said TVNZ had maintained some credibility by choosing to outsource its Pacific programmes to Pacific people.

Tagata Pasifika has been on air for 27 years and the association's chair, Sandra Kailahi, said the decision to end in-house production was controversial.

But she said TVNZ appeared to have listened to concerns expressed at a public meeting in November about the programmes going to Pasifika production companies.

"We are relieved and happy for all the staff involved as it has been a stressful time."

TVNZ also named Pango Aotearoa Ltd, led by Bailey Mackey, as the preferred producer for Marae, and Scottie Productions, led by Megan Douglas, for Waka Huia.

TVNZ said the four companies were selected from a strong field in consultation with government funders Te Mangai Paho and NZ On Air.

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