11 Mar 2015

Maori TV accused of censorship

12:03 am on 11 March 2015

Maori Television has decided to publish a haka performance which criticised the broadcaster.

Paora Maxwell.

Paora Maxwell. Photo: MAORI TV

The Tainui group, Te Iti Kahurangi, took to the national Te Matatini kapa haka stage last week and performed a haka which challenged the way the channel covered Maori issues.

After the performance, its kaitataki tane or male kapa haka leader, Kingi Kiriona, who was a former Television New Zealand Te Karere reporter, questioned how Maori TV covered stories.

He suggested that the station should be doing more uplifting stories about tangata whenua rather than negative stories about them.

Mr Kiriona said mainstream media provided that point of view.

On Tuesday afternoon, Maori Television announced it would publish the group's haka as part of its online coverage of Te Matatini, after staff discussed the performance item.

Chief executive Paora Maxwell said it had taken onboard the feedback from staff and its audience, and he said the message was clear the haka should be available.

He said the station had done just that.

Mr Maxwell said the station was proud and humbled to be associated with the event, and able to share it with one million viewers.

Tribe takes aim at Maori TV

Waikato-Tainui said an initial decision by Maori Television to not show the haka performance was censorship.

Te Arataura o Waikato-Tainui Chairman Rahui Papa said the matter served as a reminder to protect not only the right to freedom of speech but also the age-old Maori customary practice to openly discuss and debate issues.

He said the censoring of Te Iti Kahurangi not only impinged freedom of speech but did not align with an important tikanga that had been practised for years.

Mr Papa said speaking one's mind openly was an integral part of Maori custom and the Kapa haka stage was an acknowledged forum for the experession of views and opinions.