TVNZ's Te Karere has taken aim at the organisers of next week's national kapa haka championships for squeezing it out of the extravaganza - a result of an exclusive deal with Maori Television.
Te Matatini, the biennial competition, is expected to draw thousands to Rotorua to watch 41 teams for the four days from Thursday at the Rotorua International Stadium.
Late on Monday night organisers sent an email to accredited media telling them only the official broadcaster, Maori TV - which received $399,610 from government funding agency Te Mangai Paho to show the event - would be allowed to film interviews with performing groups in a media tent. This restriction was in addition to the station holding sole rights to broadcast the performances.
"I know this will cause challenges, especially for other TV media, however if Te Matatini Society Incorporated is to uphold its exclusivity agreement with the official television broadcaster, this restriction must be applied," the email said.
Te Karere took the issue to Facebook followers yesterday: "Should our biggest kapa haka event Te Matatini be given as much media coverage as possible? Of course it should, but unfortunately Te Matatini is allowing only one television broadcaster access to the event. All other media including Maori programmes like Te Karere have been shut out and won't be able to report on a significant and positive Maori event like this. Over the top or fair game? Tell us what you think."
Te Matatini chief executive Darrin Apanui said broadcast material would still be supplied to TVNZ. The organisers had accepted that wider media coverage could be compromised but there was a compelling reason for choosing Maori TV.
"I think we've made a very bold statement. We're about the promotion of Te Reo, and Maori development. We have a natural alignment there."
Asked if it was over the top that other broadcasters were unable to interview performers inside the media tent, Mr Apanui said viewers would not be missing out on anything "sexy".
A later statement said a spot inside the venue had been found for other broadcasters.
Maori Television's Jim Mather said the rules were not intended to cut others out. There would be access to all performances but with limitations on how much footage could be used.
Next week on Maori TV
Day One Thursday - highlights from 8pm to 11pm
Day Two - highlights 8pm-11pm
Day Three - highlights 8pm-11pm
Finals Sunday - live 8.30am-5.30pm