13th August 2005
Destiny New Zealand has been involved in an ongoing battle with TVNZ’s Marae programme to be included in the live debates that it has been running profiling candidates standing in the respective Maori electorates. So far Destiny New Zealand has been excluded from these debates despite the varying conditions of entry. First it was the top two candidates then it was the top three and then back to the top two again.
“The criteria for entry is inconsistent, very subjective and I believe unethical” he adds.
“It is unbelievable, on the actual programme at the end of each debate they update the polls and advertise who is going to be on in the coming week. As part of this advert, on screen, they show a ballot paper with the name of the electorate on it with only two choices on it – Labour or the Maori Party. They continue to portray the “two party choice” in the Maori electorates by stating (audio) there are two choices and then give the names of the Labour and the Maori Party candidate” Mr Vercoe explains.
“How can a state broadcaster promote such biased and blatantly false information”
Marae producer Derek Wooster said the debates were restricted to Labour and the Maori Party because they were polling well above anyone else. But Mr Vercoe questions the authenticity of the poll results, especially after viewing what is presented on the show and his own experiences with being interviewed by a polling telephonist.
“I have no faith in the polls” says Mr Vercoe. “I was rung at home by a representative of TNS who was conducting the Maori Television Poll. After establishing that I was on the Waiariki electorate, regarding who I’d vote for, the question I was asked by the interviewer was as follows:
“There are two parties standing candidates in all Maori electorates in this year’s election – Labour and the Maori Party – which one would you choose?” I then questioned her by saying – that’s not right - your information is incorrect whereby she assured me – No I’m reading directly from the questions and it says what I just told you – there are two parties she repeated. I pointed out that there are actually three and I’ll be voting for Destiny New Zealand – I said do you have that on your questionnaire – she responded with “Ah, um hang on I’m not sure, paused and then said “oh yeah here it is down here under other”.
The following day I rung TNS and questioned them about their questionnaire. They explained that it had been formulated just before Destiny had confirmed their candidates, but assured me that this “technicality” would be mentioned when the results of the poll are broadcast. This of course, never happened - all they did was show the dates of when the poll was undertaken.
“With polls like this it’s amazing that Destiny New Zealand is even polling at all” says Mr Vercoe.
“There are only three parties who are standing candidates in all Maori seats in this year’s election. Any broadcaster that has a debate between only two parties is only giving Maori voters 2/3’s of the picture. Maori voters have the right to be fully informed of all their options” Mr Vercoe says.