19 Jun 2015

Minister refutes allegations of political interference

8:22 pm on 19 June 2015

The Minister of Māori Development is refuting allegations that he tried to interfere with Māori Television's programming.

Te Ururoa Flavell

Minister of Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Labour Party broadcasting spokesperson Clare Curran said emails between Te Ururoa Flavell's

press secretary and the public broadcaster show his press secretary tried to alter the format of a proposed Native Affairs debate on Whanau Ora.

Ms Curran said the press secretary also tried to dissuade Māori Television from inviting New Zealand First to appear on the show.

She said editorial interference was in breach of the Māori Television Service Act.

"After organising the participants for the debate, and beginning the filming of segments, on the afternoon of 20 May, the producers of Native Affairs subsequently cancelled the debate on Whanau Ora due to a 'change in programming strategy'," she said.

"Coincidentally, that same morning, the minister met with the CEO of Maori Television, Paora Maxwell."

But Mr Flavell denied any wrongdoing and said his press secretary was just doing her job.

Mr Flavell said the reason the Native Affairs debate was dropped had nothing to do with him or his staff.

"I've only said to the CEO of Māori TV that it should deliver more Māori language content, not only from my ministerial point of view, but also as a Te Reo speaker," he said.

"I told him that decision of course is up to him, but other than that, nothing else."

Mr Flavell said he was unimpressed by the allegations levelled against him.

"I'm disappointed that some people take advantage of this particular situation when they know that there's absolutely nothing in it and they have no evidence to back it."

Māori Television previously told Te Manu Korihi the panel discussion on Whānau Ora would be pulled after producers decided to change the format of the show when it aired on public holidays.