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Passion For Maori Television Pulled Up Short

Press Release

Nga Aho Whakaari
Exec Committee representing Maori Practitioners in Film & Television

“E kore te totara e tu noa I te parae, engari me tu I te wao”

Passion For Maori Television Pulled Up Short. Key Management Staff At New Channel Must Be Maori

Production of quality programmes for the new Maori television channel is likely to be hamstrung by a lack of resources within the first year according to the organisation representing Maori Practitioners in film, video and television.

Nga Aho Whakaari said while it is a staunch supporter of the Maori Channel it has very serious concerns about the funding being allocated to programme making.

NAW’s representative on Te Putahi Paaho (the Crown’s partner in setting up the channel), Paora Maxwell, said the public perception is that in the first year 30 million dollars is available to make new programmes for the channel.

However the average cost of an hour of television on New Zealand’s commercial networks is upwards of $80,000 said Mr Maxwell. “For the Maori Channel the average allocation for an hour is less than $40,000 and the monies available is only sufficient to make 525 hours of programming which is hardly sufficient to fill a programming schedule.”

Nga Aho Whakaari Chairman, Tainui Stephens, said there are high expectations from the MTS, the Government and the public on the quality and content of the programmes on the new channel.

“Maori producers are pro-active and positive about the unique stories they can create for the channel. However, there is a concern that they will be hamstrung by lack of resources within a short time of the channel becoming operational.”

NAW said the shortfall in funding need not come from taxpayers.

The Welsh language channel works successfully by topping up funding through a tithe on advertising on the commercial Welsh television networks said Mr Maxwell.
“The tithe is a small percentage which commercial channels are able to absorb with no impact on the taxpayer. With the tithe, Maori producers could make television programmes of interest to all New Zealanders.”

The MTS has appointed its new CEO in Canadian, John Davey, and is now in the process of selecting its management staff including a programmer.

Tainui Stephens said the selection of a foreign CEO has caused strong ripples of discontent within Maoridom.
“NAW would have preferred a Maori CEO for the channel however Mr Davey has recognised skills in media business set up and will be guided by the MTS Board. In this framework, NAW supports the MTS Board in its decision,” said Mr Stephens.

He went on to say that, “substantive issues of funding and key management positions need to be given intense consideration by the MTS Board.”

NAW said the programmer for the channel is a pivotal position and must be a person with Maori language and cultural adeptness.
“The programmer will be responsible for the “mix” of what is seen. He or she must have the pulse of the viewer as well as understanding the aspirations of Maori in terms of the preservation and promotion of language and culture.” said Mr Maxwell.

“NAW’s vision is that the channel in start-up phase should broadcast quality programmes in both Te Reo Maori and English thereby informing both a Maori and non Maori audience.”
It is NAW’s view that as the channel’s audience grows and as more people learn Maori, then the level of Maori language on the channel should also incrementally increase said Mr Maxwell.

“The Maori channel, if resourced adequately, has the potential to be an exciting and truly unique showcase for Maori and for New Zealand in the new millennium,” said Mr Stephens. “The public and the MTS Board need to be clear that there are Maori television practitioners standing by to deliver programmes the likes of which have never been seen before.”


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