Media Racism in New Zealand
OPINION: After an eye-opening lecture by Moana Jackson and Annette Sykes on 16.08.07 at Otago University, we are writing to express our views on the apparent media racism facing New Zealand.
We all know about the Kahui twins, Nia Glassie and James Whakaruru; but how many people have heard of the Nelson twins of 2004, Timothy Nathan or Natalie Wilson? These are essentially the 'Pakeha equivalents' of these cases, yet a tiny minority of people are aware of them. This is because NZ's media disproportionately focuses on instances of Maori child abuse and violence, devoting negligible coverage to that of European.
Media is the most influential system in society, and it all stems down to education. For most people the media is the sole education provider on these sorts of issues; but with Maori behaviour being alienated, whilst Pakeha behaviour barely addressed, our media sources are virtually breeding a biased society. It is subliminally being ingrained into people that Maori have a bigger problem of violence and child abuse than Pakeha do, but this is simply not true to the extent that the media conveys!
A 'Save the Children' article from 2003 noted that poverty and stress, along with drug and alcohol abuse appear to be the factors most closely and consistently associated with child abuse and neglect. Maori may be over-represented in this area, but this has nothing to do with their ethnicity.
Having a free and independent media is one of the fundamentals of a democratic society. An apparent racist representation of society does not hold true to this concept. Should it not be their main priority to fairly and proportionately convey New Zealand issues? There does not appear to be any reason for illustrating Maori like this, unless reinforcing the idea of the 'warrior race' (yet another media-driven myth) is a bid to reinforce the image that Maori are somehow inferior to Pakeha. In the modern day racism is just not tolerated anymore, yet as it seems it is still filtering through.
We would like to hear your feedback and would welcome an explanation for this behaviour.
Maretta Twentyman, Olinda Auty, Georgina Leslie, Peter Grigor.