John Drinnan: Taurima inquiry due today

Shane Taurima. Photo / Paul Estcourt
Shane Taurima. Photo / Paul Estcourt

Maori TV news and current affairs boss Julian Wilcox - might soon seek selection as a Labour party political candidate.

But the decision will likely depend on how Shane Taurima fares in an independent inquiry into allegations Labour Party bias and the use of resources while he was general manager of the Maori and Pacifica unit.

The report will be issued at 2.30 pm today.

Maori sources expect that if Taurima emerges badly from the report Wilcox will put his name forward and would be a likely winner of the nomination.

Taurima has sought nomination and the Tamaki Makaurau electorate committee has delayed selecting a candidate pending the completion of the TVNZ report.

The NZ Herald deputy political editor Claire Trevett has reported that Labour sources saying Wilcox had talked to the party, but because of the risk to his career he had refused to stand unless Taurima withdrew.

Wilcox was a certainty to win if he stood, Trevett reported.

Julian Wilcox. Photo / Natalie Slade
Julian Wilcox. Photo / Natalie Slade

Both Taurima and Wilcox require a waiver for they have not been members of the party for long enough to stand under Party rules.

The Herald reported sources saying he joined the party last November but stopped his membership four months later after Taurima ran into trouble.

Maori TV has declined to make a clear statement about whether it has raised the issue of its news boss being a potential Labour candidate.

Wilcox - who formerly presented Native Affairs - has declined to fully respond to queries but other Maori broadcasters said he indicated he would not stand.

Meanwhile, a powhiri was held at Maori TV this morning for Maxwell taking over as chief executive.

Maori TV confirmed he has already been working from home for Maori TV since he was named on March 27 and led a team of Maori TV executives - including Wilcox - for an apology to Arawa for its handling of a kapa haka competition.

Maxwell - who is a close friend with Maori TV chairwoman amd former National Cabinet minister Georgina te Heuheu - has been hotly debated in Maori TV, broadcasting sources say.

The process for the CEO job led to the resignation of board member Ian Taylor and a petition from staff that asked he not be given the job.

Some Maori TV news staff fear news shows like Native Affairs will be reined by Maxwell and news staff will not be able to question Maori establishment figures.

Maxwell has previously said that is not the case but staff should be respectful to Maori institutions. He is taking over the Maori TV role more than one year after his resignation as general manager of the TVNZ Maori unit and he was the predecessor to Taurima.

- NZ Herald

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John Drinnan has been 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.

Read more by John Drinnan

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