The Broadcasting Standards Authority has dished out a $3000 fine and upheld two complaints about radio host Sean Plunket's interview with iwi on Covid-19 checkpoints.
The BSA said the interview on Magic Talk Afternoons with Sean Plunket with Te Whānau ā Apanui spokesperson Louis Rapihana amplified negative stereotypes about Māori and had the potential to cause widespread harm.
In the May 6 interview, Rapihana was questioned about roadblocks in the eastern Bay of Plenty under Covid-19 alert level 4 and what the iwi intended to do if anyone refused to comply with the travel permit requirement established under alert level 3.
The BSA said Plunket's comments and approach had the effect of reflecting and amplifying casual racism towards Māori.
"The broadcaster felt the segment did not contain a 'high level of vitriol'. We disagree," it said.
"We consider Mr Plunket's tone, dismissiveness, repeated interruptions of Mr Rapihana and the comments he made following the interview, were either intended to encourage harmful tropes and views, or reflected ignorance at a level that is offensive and harmful to Māori."
Independent cultural advisor Dr Carwyn Jones (Ngāti Kahungunu) was enlisted by the BSA to provide a Māori perspective on the issues raised in the May 6 interview.
In response to the complaints, MediaWorks said in its submission to the BSA that although "some aspects of the broadcast were troubling", taken as a whole, it did not amount to 'hate speech or a sustained attack, or hit the threshold for finding a breach".
After defending the programme initially, in a statement today, MediaWorks said it accepted the BSA's decision.
"By its nature, talk radio is an opinionated environment that promotes provocative and edgy debate with challenging viewpoints.
"[We] understand the comments made during this live broadcast could have caused distress, and for that we apologise."
Mediaworks said Plunket was unavailable for comment as he was on leave. Plunket served on the BSA board briefly in 2017.
Rapihana, a community leader of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui manned a border along Highway 35 facing on to the Bay of Plenty earlier in the year in a desperate bid to keep Covid-19 out of the territory.
Rapihana said today he supported the BSA's decision, but it came as a "huge shock".
"I'm happy with the authority's decision to follow that up in regards to the behaviour of Sean and how he treats people that come on to do an interview.
"I was very surprised that the BSA would take anything seriously around it because of him having a history of being like that with other interviewees. For me, it was a huge shock that they would even make a stand against it."
Rapihana said he didn't know the people who laid the complaints but was grateful for their actions "because now it's brought it out - the behaviour that is not acceptable to me."