Just saying 'kia ora, bro' doesn't make it Maori TV - Sharples

Is Rick Ellis right? Do shows like Shortland Street and Police 10-7 reflect Maoridom now? Send us your views Read your views

Simply saying "kia ora bro" on television does not make it Maori programming, Pita Sharples said today.

The Maori party co-leader said it was "degrading" and played to stereotypes to include Police Ten-7 and Shortland St in a list of programmes supposed to show TVNZ was meeting its commitments to Maori.

Dr Sharples told Radio NZ: "Sure there's Maori in Shortland Street. But you know just saying 'Kia Ora bro' doesn't make it a Maori programme. Game of Two Halves, just because Mike King's in there, I mean is that how the Maori element is in that programme."

Television New Zealand chief executive Rick Ellis yesterday told a parliamentary committee that programmes such as Police Ten-7, Shortland Street and Game of Two Halves offered a Maori presence that met charter requirements.

He conceded today that Police Ten-7 was probably not the best example of a mainstream television programme containing Maori content.

Asked if he regretted reading out the list yesterday, Mr Ellis said: "Given the fuss that's been caused, yes I do."

TVNZ was at Parliament to give MPs on the Maori Affairs select committee a briefing and Mr Ellis was questioned over which programmes met TVNZ's charter responsibilities in terms of Maori perspectives.

National MP Georgina te Heuheu said Game of Two Halves was a funny programme "but I don't know that there's a particularly Maori perspective that comes across on that programme".

"If it wasn't such a serious thing it's almost a joke but I think it's insulting," she said.

Prime Minister Helen Clark said today that Mr Ellis should reconsider his statements.

One of TVNZ's charter objectives is to "ensure in its programmes and programme planning the participation of Maori and the presence of a significant Maori voice".

TVNZ said that 86 per cent of its publicly funded Maori programmes were in te reo Maori.

But mainstream programmes also had a Maori presence, Mr Ellis said.

"Dream Home, Shortland Street, Ten Years Younger, Intrepid Journeys, Location Location, Animal House, Game of Two Halves, Police Ten-7, Charm School, Lost Children, I could go on. There's a large number," he said.

"You wouldn't expect many of these programmes not to have a Maori presence, it's a key part of the diversity of New Zealand," he said.

Ms te Heuheu questioned whether TVNZ considered that Shortland Street programmes featuring Maori families fulfilled the Maori perspective requirements under the charter.

"Why not?" Mr Ellis replied.

"It's local content, it's local drama, it's been extraordinarily successful ... and by the way very, very popular with Maori," he said.

- NZPA

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