New Maori TV head comes with 'a good degree of humility'

(From left) Maori Television director Rhonda Kite, chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu, chief executive Paora Maxwell, director Cathy Dewes and director Piripi Walker. Photo / Brendan Manning
(From left) Maori Television director Rhonda Kite, chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu, chief executive Paora Maxwell, director Cathy Dewes and director Piripi Walker. Photo / Brendan Manning

Maori Television's new chief executive Paora Maxwell says any reins on the station's current affairs programmes will be unleashed under his stewardship.

Maori Television chairwoman Georgina te Heuheu confirmed Mr Maxwell's appointment at the station's headquarters in Parnell this morning following months of controversy.

Mrs te Heuheu said Mr Maxwell had 25 years' experience in television broadcasting and she was confident he could take Maori TV forward.

"He's worked across all levels of the television industry ranging from the shop floor to senior management roles in various companies.

"He was selected by the board following a statutory, agreed, transparent process. We're confident in our decision and we're looking forward to him taking over the reins of the role.''

Mr Maxwell said Maori broadcasting had always been very dear to his heart and he had never chosen Maori broadcasting as an easy option.

Responding to concerns that he would rein in current affairs after the station's Native Affairs programme made powerful enemies in Maoridom when it highlighted financial discrepancies at the Kohanga Reo National Trust, Mr Maxwell said that was his last objective.

"If indeed there are reins on Native Affairs or Te Kaea, I'd like to unleash them.''

Mrs te Heuheu said she wanted to see Maori Television continue onwards on its current trajectory, appealing to a wider Maori and Pakeha audience, while not losing sight of their core values.

"We're always hoping we're appealing to a wider audience, that's a given, but we're also very conscious of the fact that we're unique, we've been set up with statutory responsibilities, which is revitalisation of te reo, that makes us unique among broadcasters.

Mr Maxwell's selection and appointment has been wrought with controversy from the outset, after revelations Mrs te Heuheu is a close personal friend.

She said there was no conflict of interest over the appointment. "I am one person on a board of seven. My vote carries no more weight than all the other six.''

Addressing a petition which was circulated signed by two-thirds of Maori TV staff last year opposing Mr Maxwell's appointment, he said he came into the role "with a good degree of humility''.

"I think once the staff know me and don't listen to the rumour of gossip, then they will come to trust me as well to be a good CEO.''

Mr Maxwell said he had never seen the petition and wanted to leave the issue in the past. He said he had no idea where the groundswell of opposition stemmed from.

- NZ Herald

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