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A decade on, MTS celebrations again under cloud

On Friday, MTS turned 10. A decade ago, there were plenty would have put money on it not making this anniversary. Prior to its launch, Maori Television Service was mired in all sorts of poo around its inaugural CEO, fraudster John Davies. Celebrating a decade on screens, the announcement of its new CEO is doing little to change perceptions.

It’s a shame, as for most of the intervening period the broadcaster was led by CEO Jim Mather, whose mana, quiet good humour and considerable intelligence contributed much to the network’s development into its role “NZ’s de facto public broadcaster”.

Memories are strong, and there were plenty willing to share theirs in the lead-up to the celebrations. Julian Wilcox, one of the contenders to replace Mather, shared his with NZ Herald.

Alongside the joy and pride at the launch, Wilcox noted his happiness, “was also tinged with the sadness that so many Maori who fought for this new taonga did not live to see it come to pass”.

Elewhere in the Herald, John Drinnan was taking a less compassionate view, noting dissatisfaction at the appointment of Paora Maxwell as CEO.

MTS’ own statement was more neutral, although it did acknowledge dissenting voices along the road to Maxwell’s appointment.

In government, Minister for Maori Affairs Pita Sharples congratulated the broadcaster, although there was no statement – of congratulation or otherwise – forthcoming from the office of the Minister for Broadcasting.

Former board member Ian Taylor, who left the board during the appointment process dissatisfied with how it was being conducted, was busy holding his own celebrations after his Animation Research Ltd (ARL) was last week nominated for a Sports Emmy.

Labour maintained its opposition to the appointment process, spokesperson Kris Faafoi calling Maxwell’s arrival nothing for Maori TV to celebrate.

As for Maxwell, he told the Herald he arrived at MTS “with a good degree of humility”, adding, “I think once the staff know me and don’t listen to the rumour of gossip, then they will come to trust me as well to be a good CEO.”

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