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John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

John Drinnan: Maori TV flak now hitting Govt

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Maori Television chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu with the Paora Maxwell - the man who is understood to soon be named as new chief executive of the organisation. File photo / Norrie Montgomery
Maori Television chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu with the Paora Maxwell - the man who is understood to soon be named as new chief executive of the organisation. File photo / Norrie Montgomery

The Government is facing flak on two fronts over issues affecting Maori Television, amid staff concerns about plans to realign its news and current affairs department.

The first is over an Ernst and Young report to the Government that cleared the Kohanga reo Trust for misusing taxpayers money - allegations levelled by the Maori Television current affairs programme Native Affairs.

Education Minister Hekia Parata yesterday released the report that she and Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples commissioned following the allegations on Maori Television's Native Affairs show.

But the review did not look at any expenditure of the Trust subsidiary Te Pataka Ohanga because it is deemed a private organisation separate from the Trust.

"A source familiar with the appointment said Maori TV had selected a replacement without informing shareholding minister Bill English who found out through a report in the NZ Herald."
John Drinnan

Speaking to Radio New Zealand this morning, trust spokesman Derek Fox said Te Pataka Ohanga was free to spend its money in whatever way it deemed appropriate.

Anti-waste lobby group The Taxpayers Union - which has links to National - said in a statement that Sharples had chosen to turn a blind eye.

Meanwhile the Government is dealing with expectations of Maori TV appointing a contentious new chief executive - the former head of the TVNZ Maori and Pacific unit Paora Maxwell.

Staff expect that if appointed - as has been planned - Maxwell will work with the board to rein in the news and current affairs department.

"Maori Party leaders have been critical of the news and current affairs operation and Te Uraroa Flavell has supported Maxwell against what he calls Labour party interference."
John Drinnan

Native Affairs' allegations and criticism of key figures in the Maori establishment has caused a furore in Maoridom with some accusing Maori TV of having been Pakeha-fied.

Maori Party leaders have been critical of the news and current affairs operation and Te Uraroa Flavell has supported Maxwell against what he calls Labour party interference..

Maori Party Whanau ora minster Tariana a Turia has said Maori did not fight for Maori TV to see it being negative about Maori.

A source familiar with the appointment said Maori TV had selected a replacement without informing shareholding minister Bill English who found out through a report in the NZ Herald.

It is understood that English has subsequently become involved through officially the appointment is up to the Board.

Maori Party vice president Donna Gardiner - a member of the Maori TV board - has supported Maxwell's selection and Sharples has been informed about plans for Maxwell's imminent appointment as Maori TV chief executive. Labour broadcasting spokesman Kris Faafoi is expected to raise issues about the appointment including the selection process where the Board has avoided obtaining negative comment from a past employer, TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick.

The appointment process was put on hold in September when board member Ian Taylor resigned over the process but the major change was to amend the rules so a decision on a new CEO need not be unanimous

- NZ Herald

John Drinnan

John Drinnan is the Media writer for the New Zealand Herald.

John Drinnan is the media writer for the New Zealand Herald. A business journalist for twenty years, he has been editor of the specialist film and television title "Screen Finance" in London, focussing on the European TV and film industry. He has been writing about media in New Zealand since the deregulation of the television industry in the late 1980s. He is focused on the business side of the digital revolution in media.

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