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Māori Television Service Amendment Bill

Hon Dr Pita Sharples

Minister of Maori Affairs


9.45am 21 March 2013


FIRST READING SPEECH

Māori Television Service Amendment Bill

Mr Speaker, I move that the Māori Television Service Amendment Bill be now read a first time. I nominate the Māori Affairs Committee to consider the bill.

At the appropriate time I intend to move that the bill be reported to the House by 23 July 2013, and that the committee have authority to meet at any time while the House is sitting (except during oral questions), during any evening on a day on which there has been a sitting of the House, and on a Friday in a week in which there has been a sitting of the House, despite Standing Orders [188 and 191(1)(b) and (c)].

Introduction

Mā tātou! Koira te karanga o Whakaata Māori ki a Aotearoa whānui. The launch of the Māori Television Service in 2004 was a watershed moment for Māori people and indeed all New Zealanders. It transformed the media landscape in this country. It made our language and culture accessible to a broad viewing audience. For Māori, it has meant the celebration and normalisation of our language, our tikanga, our people. I am delighted to celebrate it achievements.

Background

The Māori Television Service Act 2003 established the Māori Television Service. It also specified that a review of the operation and effectiveness of the Act be undertaken in 2008/09 with a report to Parliament and recommendations for any amendments to the foundation legislation.

The review was conducted by an independent panel with expertise in te reo, the television industry and broadcasting legislation. The panel members were: Tainui Stephens, Hōne Edwards and Jane Hūria. Their subsequent report contained thirty one recommendations.

The Minister of Finance and I are the responsible Ministers for the Māori Television Service. We worked with Te Pūtahi Paoho (the Māori Television Service Electoral College) to jointly review the recommendations from the independent panel in 2009 and 2010.

Following this, Cabinet approved in principle the Government response to the Review in October 2010, including various proposed changes to the foundation legislation, subject to targeted consultation with Māori. At that time, Cabinet deferred consideration of the four recommendations concerning the composition of Te Pūtahi Paoho, so that this work could be synchronised with some related workstreams in the Māori Affairs portfolio.

Te Puni Kōkiri undertook targeted consultation hui with Māori in 2010 and 2011 to discuss the proposed legislative changes. No concerns were raised at these hui about the proposed approach, and the Government subsequently confirmed the proposed legislative changes as the basis for this Bill.

Mr Speaker, there is general agreement that the Māori Television Service does an excellent job with its core business. On that basis, we are not proposing major changes to its underlying legislation. We do, however, seek to fine-tune this legislation so that the Māori Television Service is optimally positioned for digital switchover, and can continue its strong focus on promoting our language and culture. Digital switchover is scheduled for completion in December 2013. We intend to enact this Bill in 2013, so the Māori Television Service is ready to ‘go digital’.

The Bill

The Bill seeks to make minor changes to the functions of the Māori Television Service, to strengthen its focus on the Māori language and culture. It will also update arrangements for spectrum management, and the contents of Māori Television Service accountability documents. It addresses arrangements for borrowing and investment by the Māori Television Service, the timeliness of future reviews, and other miscellaneous matters.

Arrangements for the Management of UHF Spectrum

The bill provides for the transfer of spectrum management rights from the Crown to Te Pūtahi Paoho, and for Te Pūtahi Paoho to issue spectrum licences to the Māori Television Service to meet its current and future broadcasting needs. It is my expectation that Te Pūtahi Paoho will issue a national set of spectrum licences to the Māori Television Service immediately following the passage of this bill, to cover a 20 year window.

This approach reflects the role of Te Pūtahi Paoho as kaitiaki of Māori interests in the Māori Television Service. It will also provide certainty of tenure for the Māori Television Service about access to the necessary spectrum licences for it to undertake its business. It will also strengthen the relationship between the Māori Television Service and Te Pūtahi Paoho.

The Bill also provides for the creation of a deed between the responsible Ministers and Te Pūtahi Paoho to set out the terms and conditions under which Te Pūtahi Paoho must exercise the spectrum management rights. These terms and conditions will address implementation requirements, specific provisions about support for the Māori Television Service and the promotion of the Māori language and culture, and the circumstances under which Te Pūtahi Paoho would be required to return the spectrum management rights to the Crown.

This approach provides some flexibility for the Crown and Te Pūtahi Paoho to manage, amend and update operational arrangements for spectrum management on an ongoing basis, without requiring further legislative change. It is my intention to refer the draft deed that has been prepared to the Māori Affairs Committee to inform its consideration of this Bill. Following that, Te Puni Kōkiri and the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment will work on behalf of the responsible Ministers to finalise the deed with Te Pūtahi Paoho.

Outstanding Issues – the Composition of TPP

As I have noted, Cabinet has deferred consideration of issues regarding the composition of Te Pūtahi Paoho. This is a serious matter, and will require significant engagement with Māori. I am keen to ensure that any work to consider the composition of Te Pūtahi Paoho is synchronised with related workstreams in Vote: Māori Affairs. On this basis, I intend to report back to the House with my proposed approach to this matter at an appropriate time.

Next Stages

It is important that this bill progresses through the legislative process in a timely manner. There are a number of spectrum-related transitional arrangements that need to occur once this bill has been enacted, to position the Māori Television Service for digital switch-over. For this reason, I ask that the motion be agreed that this bill be reported back to the House by 23 July 2013.

Mihi

I would like to briefly acknowledge the efforts of all those that worked to bring te reo into our homes through television. E ōku rangatira, tēnei ka mihi ki a koutou, arā ki ā koutou mahi nunui hei painga mō te reo, mō ngā mokopuna, mō te iwi nui tonu. Tihei mauri ora.

Conclusion

As I have noted, Māori television has taken our language and culture to a broad viewing audience. It plays a major role in promoting our unique heritage and identity to Māori and non-Māori viewers through its outstanding annual coverage of ANZAC Day, through its free-to-air coverage of the Rugby World Cup 2011, and through its presentation of the everyday joys, tribulations and triumphs of Māori and other New Zealangders. It is my intention to strengthen the platform for our language and culture through this legislation.

Mr Speaker, I commend this bill to the house.


ends


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