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Waitangi Media Ban Breaks Promise

Media Statement

5 February 2004

Waitangi Media Ban Breaks Promise

Organisers who have restricted media access to covering Waitangi Treaty commemorative events on the Te Tii Waitangi Marae have broken an undertaking they made last year according to the Chairman of the Commonwealth Press Union (New Zealand Section), Mr Gavin Ellis.

“News media were highly critical of a ban last year and the organisers undertook to review the ban on non-Maori media attendance if there were no difficulties that could be ascribed to ‘mainstream media’,” Mr Ellis said.

“There were no such problems and news organisations had every right to expect that they would not impose any restrictions this year. Plainly they have not met that undertaking and it is equally clear that they had no intention of doing so,” said Mr Ellis.

Mr Ellis added that if the situation had been in reverse and Maori media representatives were barred from a public event there would be “a righteous outburst and rightly so”.

The Commonwealth Press Union Press Freedom Committee in New Zealand represents all print and broadcast media and is linked to the international CPU organisations, acting as a watchdog on issues relating to press freedom and freedom of expression generally.

“This is not an issue about race,” said Mr Ellis “it is an issue about the public’s right to know”.


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