James Ihaka

James Ihaka is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Maxwell confirmed as Maori TV head

Appointment comes despite petition by staff who did not want former TVNZ man.

Paora Maxwell.
Paora Maxwell.

Maori Television chair Georgina te Heuheu has today confirmed Paora Maxwell has been appointed as the station's new chief executive after months of controversy.

The announcement was made at the station's headquarters in Parnell this morning.

Te Heuheu said Maxwell was selected by the station's board following a "thorough and methodical recruitment process''.

It's understood the former children's television producer will start his new job in May.

Sources at the station believe Mr Maxwell's appointment was moved forward to today to avoid taking the gloss off the station's 10th anniversary celebrations tomorrow.

See John Drinnan: 10-year celebration not shared by all at Maori TV

A senior staff member said some staff were anxious and disappointed while others were "fatigued and resigned to the inevitable".

"There's been a feeling that it was all inevitable, if anything, everybody's feeling exhausted by it all."

The person said there were concerns a petition opposing Mr Maxwell's appointment that circulated last year would reveal who signed it, although it's understood former chief executive Jim Mather blacked out the names in it.

"There are quite a few people who are clearly not happy about it so there could be a few resignations," the person said.

Another source said there was an element of fear that Mr Maxwell could rein in the station's editorial department, particularly after its Native Affairs programme highlighted financial discrepancies at the Kohanga Reo National Trust.

Mr Maxwell's selection and appointment has been wrought with controversy from the outset, after revelations Mrs Te Heuheu is a close personal friend.

Mrs Te Heuheu could not be reached for comment last night.

It also emerged that Maori TV did not take up an offer from TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick to discuss the reasons for Mr Maxwell leaving his role as general manager of TVNZ's Maori and Pacific unit last year.

In September, prominent board member Ian Taylor resigned over the selection process.

Willie Jackson, chairman of Te Putahi Paoho, the Maori Television electoral college which has four members on the seven-strong MTS board, confirmed his board was not invited to be part of the final selection process for candidates.

"Although my board is very angry with the Maori TV board in terms of their consultation process there is nothing but respect for Mr Maxwell if he is appointed to the position."

Paora Maxwell

• Of Ngati Rangiwewehi, Te Ure o Uenukukopako and Te Arawa whanui descent.
• Began his career in television with TVNZ in 1988 directing children's programmes.
• Was general manager of TVNZ Maori and Pacific Unit.
• Left TVNZ in early 2013 with a confidential settlement.
• Former chairman of Nga Aho Whakaari, the industry body representing Maori independent producers.

- NZ Herald

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