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Derek Fox Says Mainsream Media Sour on Maori


AUCKLAND (NZ Herald/Pacific Media Watch): Derek Fox, chairman of the Maori Television Service, yesterday attacked mainstream New Zealand media coverage of Maori issues, describing it as derogatory and disrespectful.

Fox said he was not surprised by the ban imposed on non-Maori journalists by Ngapuhi at the national Waitangi Day celebrations today.

Interviewed on National Radio's Nine to Noon, Fox, an experienced broadcaster, said he doubted it would be the last ban.

He told host Rae Lamb that "by and large, the main circle mainstream media are useless when it comes to Maori coverage. It's almost invariably derogatory and disrespectful".

Asked if staff from his Mana magazine would cover Waitangi events, Fox replied:

"No, we tend not to go to Waitangi. I mean, you know, again, that's a skin-deep approach that the mainstream seems to have and by and large that's what I would say coverage was of Maori events ... It's skin-deep."

Fox said mainstream media did not seriously cover issues about the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, the founding document of New Zealand as a partnership between Maori chiefs and British colonial authorities.

"There was a very important Waitangi Tribunal report that came out and the only coverage I saw in the mainstream was coverage from [former Justice Minister] Doug Graham, saying the country can't afford it."

Lamb: But the mainstream media excludes you as well as me. And many of your colleagues.

Fox: The mainstream media has never represented me. Almost invariably, every field that I have some knowledge of, whether it's local government, flying, Maori events, all sorts of other things, when I hear coverage of it, it is almost invariably wrong. In terms of Maori television, every time I hear a report of it, it is almost invariably wrong.

Fox said he would not be surprised by future bans.

"I don't know the specifics there but I'm not surprised and I won't be surprised in future when more and more Maori organisations say, 'We don't want you there because you behaved badly, you were disrespectful, you don't understand the language, you don't understand the culture and you're not interested in learning'."

Lamb: Even the Maori reporters who work for mainstream media. Do you include them in that?

Fox: Well, it's their bosses who call the shots, it's the editor who decides what goes to air.

Lamb: It's the Maori reporters who are on the marae.

Fox: Do you have anyone in the management who is Maori? Does The New Zealand Herald? . . People in decision-making positions, that really means something. The answer is no. I'll start taking you seriously when you do have people there like that.

+++niuswire

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PACIFIC MEDIA WATCH is an independent, non-profit, non-government organisation comprising journalists, lawyers, editors and other media workers, dedicated to examining issues of ethics, accountability, censorship, media freedom and media ownership in the Pacific region. Launched in October 1996, it has links with the Journalism Program at the University of the South Pacific, Bushfire Media based in Sydney, Journalism Studies at the University of PNG (UPNG), the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism (ACIJ), Auckland University of Technology in New Zealand, and Community Communications Online (c2o).

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