Maori Affairs reporter Labour leadership contender Shane Jones fears a divided Maori Television board could become "cultural mice on a treadmill" with lots of activity but going nowhere as it seeks a new chief executive for the station.

The Herald revealed yesterday that the MTS board was split over Paora Maxwell and Richard Jeffries who are the two remaining candidates for the station's chief executive position. It is understood the pair will be reinterviewed for the position probably today.

Dozens of Maori Television staff last week signed a petition opposing the appointment of Mr Maxwell, who left TVNZ this year.

Mr Jones said he "feared a spectacle" with the board, not only with the impasse among members over who should get the top job but with the digital spectrum transfer to Maori Television looming.


"The board is obviously divided and they must be careful they don't turn into cultural mice running around a treadmill with lots of activity but going nowhere," he said.

"One has to question if they can't get the chief executive process sorted because of conflicts of interest then it doesn't bode well for this multimillion-dollar resource."

Deputy Prime Minister Bill English yesterday said he had confidence in the board despite a potential conflict of interest between its chairwoman Georgina Te Heuheu and Mr Maxwell, who is a close friend of the former National MP.

Meanwhile, Willie Jackson who is the new chairman of Te Putahi Paoho, the Maori Television Electoral College, said there was disappointment from its board that its view on the new CEO had not been sought.