Māori media must lead and inspire innovative change required for survival

10:15 am on 28 May 2020

By Shane Taurima.

Opinion - Media leaders must help to ensure that Māori perspectives and diversity of voice are guaranteed and valued within the sector.

The new Māori Television building.

The new Māori Television building. Photo: RNZ / Shannon Haunui-Thompson

There is a well-known whakataukī in te reo Māori that says "I orea te tuatara ka patu ki waho", it speaks to the need for creative thinking, adaptability and perseverance in finding solutions. Perhaps more pertinent now than ever before, this adaptability and creative thinking in the face of change is critical. It is an important competency that we at Māori Television must endeavour to employ if we are to emerge from the unprecedented challenges of Covid-19 stronger and more relevant than ever before.

Like many media outlets around Aotearoa, we have seen a significant increase in our audience numbers across all our platforms during Covid-19. This unparalleled audience engagement is a key indicator of the important role that Māori Television plays in representing vitally important Māori perspectives. Māori journalism for Māori, remains critical for disseminating timely and factual information during a crisis, for the growth of te reo and tikanga Māori and for connecting with our communities.

As we navigate these uncharted waters and begin the road to recovery from this disruptive period, we have a unique opportunity to build on our existing strategy while embedding the speed, agility and key learnings developed during Covid-19 into our future ways of working.

If there is one key take away from the challenges faced in the wake of Covid-19, it is that like our tīpuna who were inspiring leaders, navigators and innovators, we too must lead and inspire the innovative change required to survive.

For Māori Television this means putting our purpose and vision at the heart of our business to enable the creation of genuine long-term value for our audiences, stakeholders and the audiences we serve. This purpose and value is driven by Māori Television's mission to be a 'digital-first', outcomes-focused and audience-centric organisation. One that is future-fit and well equipped to tackle the unprecedented challenges of a post Covid-19 landscape, in our long-term pursuit to create great Māori content that excites and inspires our audiences to learn and use te reo.

Challenging times such as these have further highlighted the foregoing need for a collaborative and capable New Zealand media sector that promotes and demonstrates the use of te reo me ngā tikanga Māori. These unprecedented times call for unprecedented measures, and for those of us in leadership positions to step forward, roll up our sleeves, challenge the status quo and lead by example. Leadership that helps to ensure that Māori perspectives and diversity of voice are guaranteed and valued within the New Zealand media sector.

Undoubtedly, this is a turbulent and uncertain period in our history. The change forced upon us by Covid-19 has highlighted the unique strengths within our organisation. Exemplifying this, kaimahi right across Māori Television have stepped up to help ensure the continued delivery of informative, relevant and engaging content, so that amidst the uncertainty our audiences were able to find solace and assurance in their connection with te ao Māori.

Inevitably, the New Zealand media sector that emerges from Covid-19 will not look the same as before. However, if there is one thing that Covid-19 has reaffirmed, it is that we have a duty of care and responsibility as media to deliver timely and accurate information to the communities we serve. Fundamentally recognising that this includes Māori specific messaging to our Māori communities, helping them to stay informed, safe and well in times of crisis and beyond.

Ki te huapae o te rangi! Reaching to the horizon and beyond.

*Shane Taurima is the Tāhuhu Rangapū (Chief Executive) of Māori Television. This is the third in a series of articles from media chief executives about the future of their industry.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs