Complaint upheld over Northland news story

1:20 pm on 12 July 2017
The front-page story in the Northern Advocate which later vanished from the publisher's news websites.

The front-page story in the Northern Advocate. Photo: RNZ

A Northland paper failed to validate claims by an amateur historian that a pre-European race of people settled New Zealand, the Press Council has ruled.

A complaint against the Northern Advocate has been upheld by the council for failing in its duty to provide fair, accurate and balanced reporting.

Last month Kaipara man Noel Hilliam claimed he'd tested two sets of human bones and found one came from Wales and the other was Mediterranean.

The Press Council said the story touched on sensitive historic and cultural issues and found the paper failed to check with the unnamed experts cited, or any other credible historic or forensic experts, to test whether the claims could be valid.

Local iwi kaumatua Ben Hita, of Te Uri o Hau, said the iwi deserved an apology from the paper.

He suggested the paper could attend a kaumatua meeting and make the apology there.

But Northern Advocate editor Craig Cooper told RNZ it would not discuss an apology for the iwi.

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