David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Staff sign petition against Maori TV CEO finalist

L to R, Nikki Kaye, Hon Georgina Te Heu Heu and Paora Maxwell.Photo / Norrie Montgomery
L to R, Nikki Kaye, Hon Georgina Te Heu Heu and Paora Maxwell.Photo / Norrie Montgomery

Staff at Maori Television are circulating a petition opposing one of the finalists for the vacant job of chief executive at the network.

Senior managers are believed to be among those who have signed the petition asking the Maori Television board not to hire broadcaster Paora Maxwell as chief executive.

The petition began making the rounds after news leaked out that Mr Maxwell had been short-listed for the job, replacing departing chief executive Jim Mather. Mr Maxwell was general manager of Maori programmes at TVNZ until February this year. He resigned amid grumbling over his relations with staff. Among the issues was upset over the size of his office, which grew during a re-organisation to consume a number of work stations.

A spokeswoman for Maori Television said the hiring process was still underway.

"No decision has been made, no one has been appointed at this stage and the Board is committed to seeing the recruitment process through to completion." She refused to say if she had signed the petition.

Mr Maxwell, who did not return calls for comment, started in television at TVNZ in 1988. He went on to run his own production company, Te Aratai Productions. He rejoined TVNZ in 2008 in the executive role overseeing Maori programming. Mr Maxwell was also a member of Te Putahi Paaho, the Maori Electoral College which set up the Maori Television Service.

He was known to be close to board chairwoman and former National Party MP Georgina Te Heu Heu. She did not return calls for comment.

Film-maker Tainui Stephens paid tribute to Mr Mather's leadership at Maori Television. He said he had debunked criticism which dogged the channel when it started in 2004.

Mr Mather's style of leadership had grown the station's kaupapa and delivered to its audience since he took over, said Mr Stephens, Maori advisor to New Zealand On Air.

"Jim Mather is fond of saying 'where others zig, Maori Television will zag'. There is an advantage to being a smaller operator.'

Mr Stephens said Maori Television now managed the difficult job of serving the needs of the Maori language while meeting the wider community's interest in the channel.

- NZ Herald

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