Moves to gut public and Maori broadcasting

Te Hoki New Zealand in Afghanistan, broadcast on Maori TV. Image: Scoop, Lionel  de Coninck.

Te Hoki Huna New Zealand in Afghanistan, broadcast on Maori TV. Image: Scoop, Lionel de Coninck.

Ian Anderson (Fightback/MANA Poneke).

Paora Maxwell’s tenure as Maori TV CEO has been controversial. In August 2013, staff at Maori TV circulated a petition against Maxwell’s appointment by the Nats. More recently, Maxwell announced a restructuring process, and high-profile figures including Carol Hirschfeld left Maori TV. Now, plans to outsource TVNZ’s Maori and Pacific programming appear to confirm rumours of continued backdoor privatisation.

Maori TV remains the only TV broadcaster with content not dependant on advertising revenue, while TVNZ is now commercially funded. Public broadcasting enables journalism such as last year’s documentary He Toki Huna New Zealand In Afghanistan, commissioned and broadcast by Maori TV, which investigated New Zealand troops’ complicity in US occupation. Coupled with raids on independent journalist Nicky Hager’s house, and Maxwell’s banning of Hone Harawira from Marae Investigates, moves to gut Maori programming limit the capacity for critical journalism.

In an era of privatisation and neoliberal entrenchment, an era of Whale Oil and Kiwiblog, Maori TV’s continued existence is a tribute to decades of Maori struggle and organisation. At the same time, the complicity of the Maori Party in these changes reveals how a top layer of Maori have been co-opted into a system that dispossesses the majority.

With Hone Harawira booted out of his Taitokerau seat, the only serious public opposition to these moves has come from outside parliament. The struggle against neoliberal entrenchment, for a truly democratic society, is necessarily a community struggle. In addition to public broadcasting, we also need a people’s press, sources independent of capital and the state that aid struggles for self-determination.

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