Shane Taurima – the Maori Party candidate for Tamaki Makarau in the last election – is working on a big shakeup at Maori TV. The onetime Q & A interviewer and Labour candidate had been found holding a Labour party meeting at TVNZ, so he changed parties. Alas, the Maori Party went belly up and Labour formed the government. Last month Taurima was appointed deputy-chief executive and head of transition of Maori TV.
Big upheavals are expected with speculation that the news operation will be shifted to an outside organisation servicing different Maori media. Options have not yet been spelt out. But the Maori TV head of news, Maramena Roderick is leaving next week after keeping the news operation afloat.
Overall, Maori TV has suffered from internal politics, personalities, low staff morale and from previous management signing a questionable long-term lease for new studios at an isolated location in East Tamaki. The worst setback has been the lack of progress in its key aim increasing uptake of te reo, which was the main reason for it being set up.
Under National, Maori TV was largely left to be influenced by the Maori Party. Now Labour is said to be a more proactive role, sources say. So if the news role is to shift outside Maori TV what parties will be involved. TVNZ is the most obvious choice, but in my opinion that will not be politicians first choice.
Radio Waatea, the Auckland urban Maori radio station, has a close association with Willie Jackson, head of the Labour Maori caucus. Jackson a key player in Maori politics and broadcasting. Waatea has also been closely linked to John Tamihere, a close fiend of Jackson, who is on the board of a Maori TV.
A former Labour cabinet minister in the Clark government, Tamihere is CEO of the Waipareira Trust and has indicated he may stand for Auckland mayor against Phil Goff.
Indeed, personalities Maori politics and media are so enmeshed it is hard to se which links are official and what are not. Alongside the Labour win, RNZ has gone big time to boost its Maori content andhas indicated closer ties with Maori TV. The RNZ chairman is Jim Mather, who is a former chief executive of Maori TV. Indeed his tenure marked a period of stability at Maori TV that ended when he left. Two other former Mather colleagues from Maori TV – Alan Withrington and Stephen Smith – both have senior roles at RNZ.
Mather’s wife is Annabelle Lee-Mather, who is the daughter of politicians Sandra Lee and Mike Lee. Along with presente Mohi Forbes she is a director the Maori current affairs production company that makes The Hui for TV3.