TVNZ unit manager Shane Taurima has resigned from the state broadcaster after revelations he took part in a Labour Party hui and that TVNZ facilities were used to host Labour Party meetings.
3 News reported tonight that TVNZ offices were used to host a meeting of Labour's Tamaki Makaurau branch last year. TVNZ staff emails were also used to organise a subsequent hui in January this year which Labour leader David Cunliffe attended. Mr Taurima, the head of TVNZ's Maori and Pacific unit, had acted as a facilitator and spoken about the Maori vote at that January hui.
Mr Taurima stood for selection for the Labour Party in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year but was beaten by Meka Whaitiri. Mr Taurima stood down from his TVNZ role during the selection, but was given the job back afterwards.
TVNZ is now investigating the involvement with Labour of three other staff in the Maori and Pacific unit who used TVNZ email for Labour business.
In comments provided to 3 News, TVNZ's head of news John Gillespie said he had not known about the meeting at TVNZ or Mr Taurima's role in the January hui. "I have stressed to Shane that his is a serious lapse of judgment. Our editorial independence is paramount at any time, election year or not. It is clear Shane can not continue in his role."
He said Mr Taurima had been up-front that he was considering standing for Labour in Tamaki Makaurau at the next election and had briefed his bosses last week. "Today he has made a call to resign from TVNZ while he considers his political future."
Mr Gillespie said hosting a meeting at TVNZ was a "serious breach of our editorial guidelines"and was being investigated.
Mr Taurima did not return phone calls today.
Maori TV's Julian Wilcox is also understood to be interested in standing in Tamaki Makaurau. Nominations close on 28 February.
Labour Party President Moira Coatsworth said in a statement tonight that Shane Taurima is not a current officeholder in the New Zealand Labour Party, nor has he been nominated to become a candidate.
"This matter concerns the relationship between Shane Taurima and his former employer TVNZ. It is not appropriate to comment further,'' she said.