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Broadcasting Amendment Bill - Harawira

Broadcasting Amendment Bill; 5 March 2008

Hone Harawira, Maori Party Broadcasting Spokesperson

The Broadcasting Assets Case was a watershed moment in Maori broadcasting, when the High Court ruled that the government was obligated to protectte reo maori me ona tikanga, a decision affirmed by the Court of Appeal in 1992, which led to the formation of Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi to:

‘reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture by promoting Maori language and culture’.

And the rest of course is history – and this Broadcasting Amendment Bill here today, addresses both the historical framework and the future strategic priorities for Maori broadcasting.

We welcome the amendments to ensure that Te Reo Whakapuaki Irirangi, or Te Mangai Paho as it is most-well known, can fund the archiving of Maori language and culture programmes, in the same way that Maoridom welcomes the challenge that the Maori Party has put before this House to introduce simultaneous translation so that Maori can be a living language in this chamber, as it should be, and as it can be in every house in Aotearoa.

We also welcome the amendments to enable Te Mangai Paho to fund video-on-demand, interactivity projects, and the reversioning of content for non-broadcast platforms like the internet and mobile phones.

But I was particularly interested in the comments from Te Maumako August, manager of Moana AM and Tahi FM, and chairperson of Te Whakaruruhau o Nga Reo Irirangi Maori o Aotearoa - the Federation of Maori radio stations, who asked the select committee whether these new digital non-broadcast platforms would also be subject to the same Maori language benchmarks already laid down by Te Mangai Paho.

A very interesting thought that I doubt has been given much consideration, and a proposition that I would love to hear the Minister’s thoughts on.

But what you WON’T find in this Bill is a clear commitment to the ongoing funding of Maori radio broadcasting, nor a clear commitment to the ongoing funding of Maori programming, despite a clear statutory direction to funding te reo Maori - and this from a government which boasts of an operating surplus of billions of dollars.

How come, despite years of budgetary surpluses, operational funding for Maori radio has had only one increase in twenty years, and that increase being a one-off, and that there is still no firm commitment to fund Maori language programming as directed by the Act.

And while we’re considering amendments to the Broadcasting Act 1989, we wonder whether perhaps we should also be considering the ways in which Te Mangai Paho and Te Taura Whiri are appointed.

Last night the debate raged over the Maori Trustee Bill, with particular concern over the political nature of appointments to the role, with Dr Sharples challenging government to reconsider the way in which the Maori Trustee was appointed because the office could never truly be independent if the government’s hand was firmly attached; a useful point to consider when one thinks of the ministerial appointments to Te Mangai Paho and Te Taura Whiri.

An alternative model was set up for the oversight of the Maori Television Service, in which the power is shared between Ministerial appointments and those chosen by Te Putahi Paho, an independent Maori Electoral College.

It is a model which has been copied in other areas as well, and I will be interested to see whether the Minister will take a call to share his views about the appropriate time for government to allow both Te Mangai Paho and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo, to break free from the suffocation of crown control.


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