Television New Zealand will be out-sourcing a major chunk of its Maori programming department amidst a planned shake-up at Maori TV and Maori broadcasting where iwis will have a bigger influence

TVNZ Maori unit staff are expected to work for independent production companies but it is understood there are no guarantees for individuals.

The move coincides with moves by the Maori Party to introduce Te Matawai, a scheme that will put funding for Maori programming and Maori TV into the same iwi-controlled organisation, alongside the Maori Language Commission.

TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick could not be contacted to comment on whether there were political reasons for the change as result of Te Matawai.

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Independent producers will produce of all its Maori and Pacific programmes from next year, with the exception of Te Karere.

Kenrick says the move would align Maori and Pacific programmes such as Marae, Waka Huia, Fresh and Tagata Pasifika with other TVNZ commissioned local productions and create an attractive opportunity for New Zealand's independent production community.

"We remain fully committed to reflecting New Zealand's unique cultural identity and diversity on screen and we respect our special role under legislation to do so. The obligation is set, our commitment remains  what we want to do is to step aside from the in-house production of these programmes.

"What we're proposing is something we're already doing widely across our local commissions. For some years now we've been moving away from internal production of non-news programming and partnering with external programme producers.

There has been pressure for the Maori news on te Karere with the Maori TV daily news show but this has been resisted among Maoridom, and it seems by TVNZ,

"Daily newsgathering is a centre of excellence for TVNZ and has a unique production process, which is why we intend to keep the production of Te Karere in-house.

"Our experience with other independently produced programmes is that a competitive environment can stimulate freshness and a new creative edge with no loss of quality, and it certainly streamlines our business."

NZ On Air and Te Mangai Paho funding for these programmes is typically allocated annually. TVNZ says initiating discussions now would give it time to work with funders and potential production partners to gear up for next year.

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Says Kevin Kenrick: "Maori and Pacific programming at TVNZ has a very long and proud history, and fosters many very talented people. Our intention would be to encourage external production companies to take on those who currently work for us so they can benefit from our people's expertise."

TVNZ says discussion about the likely changes begins today with staff, funders and production partners.