TVNZ defends executive after cracks at Auckland hit a nerve

By Steve Deane

Andrew Shaw.
Andrew Shaw.

A senior TVNZ executive has labelled Auckland a "s*** hole" while joking about the city's large Polynesian population.

TVNZ's general manager of commissioning, production and acquisitions, Andrew Shaw, told a 1000-strong audience at the network's 2014 programming launch at Viaduct Events Centre on Wednesday night that Wellington and Christchurch didn't get "enough love really, do they ... or taxes, or roads - or Polynesians".

TV blogger Regan Cunliffe posted a transcript of the speech on his website saying: "I don't think it's a good look."

TVNZ communications manager Megan Richards said: "We've spoken to many people who attended last night and the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive, and for many, Andrew's presentation was a highlight of the evening. There was no indication anyone was offended and the subsequent questions [yesterday] came as a surprise.

"Andrew had no intention to cause offence and unreservedly apologises to anyone who may have been offended at the event or subsequently."

While Mr Shaw's comments about Auckland didn't appear to go down well, his remark about Polynesians was greeted with laughter from the audience.

Reverend Uesifili Unasa, a mayoral candidate in the recent election who chaired Auckland Council's Pacific People's Advisory Panel in 2013, described the sentiment of the speech as "unhelpful".

A person with strong links to the Pacific Island community, such as mayor Len Brown, might be able to get away with making a joke at their expense but he wasn't sure Mr Shaw fitted that category.

"It's uncalled for, really," Mr Unasa said. "With these things you always sense there is a more serious underlying message coming through. If people say it is racism, can you blame them? It's the context and who is saying it that really does make that point of difference. We are still categorising Pacific people as 'other'."

The jokes

Andrew Shaw promotes a new Topp Twins show at a TVNZ function on Wednesday night:

• "They're going to be doing the country we mythically relate to. Those dusty roads, those small villages, those fabulous towns. Unlike Auckland, what a s*** hole. Let's face it, it is isn't it? You can have all the motorways and all of the overpasses you like but Auckland isn't really up to much.

• "I'm doing that for the people who've come up from Christchurch and Wellington because they just don't get enough love really. Do they, you know? Or taxes. Or
roads. Or Polynesians.''

- NZ Herald

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