Moves to hand control of Maori TV to tribal bodies are creating tensions between Maori politicians and broadcasting players.

Auckland-based iwi Ngati Whatua has blasted critics of Maori Party plans to hand control of Maori Television and funding body Te Mangai Paho to iwi.

Ngati Whatua chairperson and Maori Party president Rangimarie Naida Glavish reacted to disquiet about the Te Matawai structure promoted by departing Tamaki Makaurau MP Pita Sharples.

Plans are being included in early discussions for a coalition agreement between the Maori Party and National. But critics have said te Matawai will establish a new bureaucracy and set back uptake of Maori language.


Reacting to an article in the New Zealand Herald this week, Glavish accused Maori critics of Te Matawai - including Mana Party leader Hone Harawira and broadcaster Willie Jackson - as insulting their own people.

Glavish said Harawira is playing politics to try to divert attention from discussions with Kim Dotcom, while Jackson was worried about loss of his "control" of funding decisions, the Ngati Whatua leader said.

The latest reports show that use of conversational Maori is reducing and Te Matawai would stop the slide. Iwi like Ngai Tahu, Ngati Porou, Te Arawa, Tainui and Ngati Whatua and others are demonstrating daily that they have the financial and management nous to achieve goals for their people.

Treasury has given the Government warnings about the implications of Te Matawai, which would mean the end of Crown enterprises and membership being controlled by iwi.

Some in Maoridom see Te Matawai as a battle between "Establishment" Maori - iwi represented by the Maori Party - and urban Maori authorities and young activists.

Public servants are wary of Te Matawai

"Treasury and other government agencies who oppose Te Matawai are simply being racist in their patronising arrogance," Glavish said.

National is considering whether to give as green light to Te Matawai in return for Maori Party support in post election coalition discussions.

"I have every confidence that the John Key government will see sense in what Minister Sharples is proposing," said Glavish.

However Left Maori politicians such as the Hone Harawira and the Greens Metiria Turei have criticised new plans saying it will hand control to iwi that don't understand issues.

Jackson - who heads the organisations of urban Maori authorities and the Radio Waatea Maori Network has described Te Matawai as the worst idea Sharples has had while in Parliament.