Ngā Aho Whakaari, Auckland, 26 November 2014: Television New Zealand (TVNZ) recently announced that internal production of its iconic Māori programmes Waka Huia and Marae Investigates would cease and that it would outsource the production of these programmes for the duration of its contractual terms with funding body Te Māngai Pāho (TMP).
Despite commitments made by TVNZ CEO Kevin Kenrick at the recent Ngā Aho Whakaari conference on November 7th to look after existing Māori staff and outsource production to Māori-owned companies, the proposed shakeup still negatively impacts on the staff of TVNZ’s Maori Department.
“With change comes opportunity,” added Kim Muriwai, Deputy Chair and spokesperson for Ngā Aho Whakaari, “but the unseemly haste of the process and deadline this Friday is actually counter-productive to the seamless transition and quality programming they are wanting. Despite TVNZ stating that current staff are welcome to apply to produce these programmes, it places unrealistic demands on those dedicated Māori production staff who have loyally and proudly served in the Māori Department of TVNZ.
“While Ngā Aho Whakaari welcomes and supports opportunities for the Māori production sector, this development is only a re-distribution of funding and employment. In the first instance we would like an extension to this Friday’s deadline.”
Ngā Aho Whakaari also has concerns about this decision and seeks transparency around this funding and process. The Board of Te Māngai Pāho is responsible for Māori broadcasting funding, however it appears to have reneged on its responsibility and is allowing TVNZ to call all the shots. Ngā Aho Whakaari is questioning this situation whereby TVNZ is being supported by Te Māngai Pāho to sub-contract out its programme contracts and create unrealistic timelines that cannot possibly produce well-researched, quality programming.
“We are under no illusions that TVNZ’s decisions are based solely on economic expediency,” said Muriwai. “It is disappointing however to see Māori broadcasting funding body Te Māngai Pāho being complicit in setting unrealistic timelines where Māori production companies are once again placed on the back foot and are likely to fail.”
Ngā Aho Whakaari, ‘The strands of many visions’
Ngā Aho Whakaari: Māori in Screen Production was set up by a group of Māori practitioners in 1996 to represent Māori working primarily in film and television production. This initiative grew out of the earlier work done by Te Manu Aute, a coalition of Māori who formed in the 1980s to advocate for a stronger Māori presence and voice in the telling of our stories through moving images.
At a Hui of Te Manu Aute in 1990, a call was made for a Māori television funding agency, a Māori television service and a Māori film commission. It is to the credit of all concerned over the last twenty-four years that those three aspirations have been realised.