Editorial: Curbs on media the thin end of wedge

By Greg Taipari

The dust has settled on what would have to have been one of the most successful Te Matatini Kapa Haka festivals.

Forty-one groups from throughout Aotearoa and Australia have headed home to most likely assess what they did well and what they could have done better.

Let's hope the national Te Matatini committee does the same.

If there was one downside to the event it was how the organisers from Te Arawa appeared to be hamstrung by restrictions set down by the national body.

If there is one thing Te Arawa knows how to do - it's to run a successful kapa haka competition. During my time as a Maori affairs reporter I've attended regionals which have been well covered by The Daily Post.

Although we have worked hard to cover this year's nationals, our photographic team was hampered with a rule that no media apart from Maori TV could point their cameras at the stage.

Now I'm not being critical of Maori TV, because I totally support their right to have sole rights as the major broadcaster. This is their livelihood, it is their job as professionals to cover an event. My issue is the taking of still pictures at the event.

All print media had to rely on Te Matatini supplying pictures for print. The media were told this was the committee's attempt to try to protect the different groups' intellectual property rights. We weren't allowed to photograph the performers and people in the crowd were also warned not to.

However, that is not to say it couldn't be done and that audience members didn't do that.

With the popularity of social media, there was always the danger of the public flouting the rules, taking their own photos with their phones and instantly uploading them on sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

The committee's attempt was like using a plaster on a shotgun wound.

I understand the commercial value the committee should place on the pictures taken at the event and it should be their right to have control of this area if they so wish.

However, the media has an obligation as well. We have a standard to adhere to and like to achieve on behalf of our readers. This can't be done if we aren't able to use the tools and resources we have access to. That said we're proud of the coverage we did bring you, in print and online.

It's interesting to note that because of the camera restrictions a number of prominent news and magazine organisations didn't attend this year's festival.

At the end of the day it is the committee's responsibility to protect the interest of kapa haka. But it is also their responsibility to promote it as well. So are they doing this, if parts of the media are refusing to attend?

- Rotorua Daily Post

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