Rotorua production companies may benefit from a likely move by TVNZ to invite independent producers to take over its Maori and Pacific Islands programmes.
The national broadcaster announced yesterday that it wanted to align its flagship programmes such as Marae, Waka Huia, Fresh and Tagata Pasifika with other TVNZ local shows to create an "attractive opportunity for New Zealand's independent production community".
It's understood jobs will be lost with daily news programme Te Karere the only show to be produced in-house.
Lara Northcroft, producer for Rotorua-based VelvetStone Media, said it was an opportunity they would be interested in.
"We've already in the past produced stories for Marae and Waka Huia so we're not a stranger to Maori programmes at TVNZ.
"While this could be seen as an opportunity for independent producers and directors, it must be said that this announcement is a shock and it is a great loss for TVNZ and the New Zealand public, to lose the Maori and Pacific department that has been an integral part of TVNZ for many, many years.
"Our concern would be around who would be able to produce those programmes for the budget and schedule constraints that the Maori department have had to work within," she said.
Local contractor director Lilly Panapa has previously worked on TVNZ shows Mai Time, I AM TV and Fresh.
She said Rotorua was the hub of Maori development and success and an opportunity like this was another chance to share their skills on a broader level.
"I think in terms of getting a feel for what's happening on the ground and having a high population of Maori like Rotorua, close relationships are formed with local iwi and hapu so we're able to provide a new perspective based outside the rat race," she said.
Mrs Panapa is also a board member on Nga Aho Whakaari, an advocacy group representing Maori working in the screen industry. She said TVNZ staff told her jobs would be lost and the board would be meeting to respond on behalf of its 200-plus members.
"Why this has come about is concerning. There is a strong collective of Maori journos and producers at TVNZ, some who are from Rotorua. While this is a great opportunity for us I hope TVNZ takes care of those who established these iconic programmes in the first place. A lot of those people have been there for decades, they're the reason why we have Te Karere and Marae."
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said discussion about the changes began yesterday with staff, funders and production partners.
"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," he said.