With the review of Māori media now underway, we asked a number of Māori broadcasters, journalists and commentators for their views on what’s working and what’s not.
Here’s broadcaster Mihingarangi Forbes.
We had the know-how to use the stars and the ocean to sail across the Pacific. So why aren’t we using our know-how now to navigate our waka through the broadcasting seas?
Our media waka sprang a serious leak some years ago and has been spinning around in circles ever since. Now the Māori broadcasting review is in a position to do the repairs and push us off again, this time in the right direction.
But the repairs will need to be substantial if our waka are to catch up with the mainstream media flotilla. We could do with a new hull and state-of-the-art sails — and an awesome tailwind as well.
Like many of my colleagues, I have sailed my waka across the sometimes turbulent seas of Māori broadcasting. I began my career at Te Karere 20-something years ago. Now I’m at The Hui and still telling Māori stories to whoever will listen, as are many of my Te Karere whānau.
Like the giants of broadcasting before us, we feel the same sense of responsibility to continue speaking up for our people, celebrating their successes and highlighting their struggles.
But, like so many Pākehā frameworks set up on our behalf, we are siloed into small organisations and encouraged to be tribal. That’s not to our advantage. Our future is in collaboration. Let’s put aside those old battle tactics of divide and conquer, a tool that has pitted us against each other. Te Kaea versus Te Karere, The Hui versus Marae.
That has us playing the Pākehā game, but we don’t have the audiences or the resources to keep up that battle. And the Māori broadcasting review needs to consult far and wide to find the best alternative, because our people are spread far and wide.
In te ao pāpāho, the broadcasting world, we don’t have the industry escalator that thrusts us through the newsroom ranks, from a cadet reporter to an intermediate and senior journalist — perhaps specialising in investigative journalism or even producing your own show — before a chance at management. There just aren’t the same opportunities for Māori broadcasters.
We suffer the same unconcious bias today as our people did when Ernie Leonard, Derek Fox and Whai Ngata started TVNZ Māori programmes. Mainstream newsrooms aren’t ready for us to take management roles.
Yes, individually we have some stars such as Maiki Sherman and Tamati Rimene-Sproat, both raised in te reo me ōna tikanga. And, more recently there’s been Shannon Haunui-Thompson and Nevak Rogers joining the high ranks at RNZ and TVNZ.
These are wins for sure, but I won’t shut up until TVNZ, NZME or Mediaworks makes appointments such as Annabelle Lee-Mather as head of current affairs and Arana Taumata or Semiramis Holland as head of news.
The upside of having an unstable industry is that we become multi-skilled rather quickly. When there is nowhere to grow at Māori Television or Te Karere, we usually create our own media opportunities. Perhaps through business development or trying our hand in film or politics.
Even in mainstream when we’re considered “mainstream Māori”, we hit the glass ceiling pretty quickly. I imagine this is what happened with Bailey Mackey, who created Pango Productions, and Scott Campbell, who created Campbell Squared Media. Or Mereana Hond, who is a senior producer at Al Jazeera. Others such as Quinton Hita’s Te Kura Productions and the Curtis brothers’ Hikoi Productions are examples of how to create your own destinies.
We have so much talent in Māori broadcasting, across television, radio and film, but little experience in print. We just haven’t had the platforms, like Newshub, NZME, Spinoff or Stuff. But this review creates the opportunity for this to happen.
And, if the review recognises the need for a collaborative Māori media platform, then that would not only allow us to take our place as Treaty partners in the media but also allow us to contribute more to indigenous storytelling in the South Pacific.
So there is much to be gained from the review — a chance, in particular, to build a seaworthy waka and ride this new wave.
I won’t be consulted on the review because I don’t work for a stakeholder organisation, but I have a suggestion if anyone is listening: Put our politics and our agendas aside. We have one last shot to get things right.
- Have your say on how te reo and Māori content programmes will be delivered in future. Online survey and submissions are open until February 28, 2019.
Mihingarangi Forbes (Ngāti Paoa, Ngāti Maniapoto) has spent 25 years in broadcasting. She started with Radio Tainui before doing an internship with Te Karere. Since then, she’s had a number of prominent roles including with Campbell Live, Native Affairs, and now with The Hui as a presenter and reporter. She’s also been the Māori correspondent for Radio New Zealand.
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