CAPTION RNZ is moving more jobs to Auckland.
Radio New Zealand is planning a small but significant shake-up of its news division, including key roles being moved from Wellington to Auckland. Only four roles will be affected, including one on-air position. But my source says there may be a greater impact on staff being unable or unwilling to move north. Away from news, it is understood that longtime overnights announcer Lloyd Scott is moving on.
RNZ is explaining the latest shakeup as an aftershock from the Kaikoura earthquake. It showed how the capital and the RNZ head office were vulnerable to natural disaster. RNZ has a legislated role for communications during a civil defence emergency. However, some Wellington staff believe there is a natural bias at the RNZ board of governors which sees Wellington as hidebound by past practices. The Auckland office is perceived as part of the new look RNZ. The image head of content Carol Hirschfeld appearing on an RNZ podcast dressed in gym gear for a promotion of a fitness programme is said to illustrate the change. It includes a more relaxed approach to the depiction of brands. This new approach has been supported by chief executive Paul Thompson. As Auckland has grown, relations between the two offices have become strained. Thompson and key news management have been based in Wellington. Former Checkpoint host Mary Wilson is in a senior news role in Wellington, while John Campbell and the new Checkpoint team are in Auckland.
So is Jesse Mulligan, and in some ways, the Auckland office has come to epitomise the new look RNZ. The specifics of changes are to be spelt out on Wednesday. RNZ stresses there are only a small number of changes. But the timing is significant given the impending general election. Thompson said any changes to the news would not affect election coverage, In the last budget, the government ended a punishing nine-year funding freeze. It allocated an annual $2.8 million increase on top of the $32 million it has been given since 2007.