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Hirschfeld challenged on Maori bulletin cuts

STATEMENT: CHAIRMAN OF TE WHAKARURUHAU O NGA REO IRIRANGI MAORI

Hirschfeld challenged on Maori bulletin cuts

Radio New Zealand’s head of content has rejected any suggestion the public broadcaster is cutting down on reporting of Maori issues.

Carol Hirschfeld went head to head today on Radio Waatea’s Paakiwaha programme with host Willie Jackson, who chairs Maori radio umbrella group Whakaruruhau.

Last month RNZ National dropped its four daily Te Manu Korihi bulletins, instead slotting in two three and a half minute packages in Morning Report and Checkpoint.

Mr Jackson said Radio New Zealand traditionally has not reflected the Maori perspective well.

He said over the past 15 years Radio New Zealand has reduced its Maori coverage from up to 30 minutes a day, it has dropped te reo Maori bulletins and segments, and it still has no frontline Maori radio presenters.

MPs from both Labour and New Zealand First have questioned RNZ’s commitment to Maori, and veteran broadcaster Derek Fox has suggested RNZ National be renamed Pakeha Radio – a sentiment Mr Jackson agreed with.

Ms Hirschfeld rejected the criticism.

She said there is now a wider spread of Maori stories in bulletins and key news programmes.

When she took the job she was concerned about Te Manu Korihi's format.

"We were forcing a small and hard working group of reporters to produce a bulletin every day which was giving them absolutely no flexibility in terms of being able to pursue stories in the kind of depth and produce them with the kind of quality we wanted. Rather we were filling a quota.

"Now that is not good journalism and what we are trying to do now is ensure that we do allow our reporters, our journalists to properly focus on the stories of the day, the issues that te ao Maori care about,” she said.
Ms Hirschfeld said she is also looking at ways to make Maori content more accessible on the Radio New Zealand website, and to create more opportunities for Maori staff.

Mr Jackson said he will be monitoring how much Maori news goes out on National Radio as he believed that it was much less now since the changes have taken place. Ms Hirschfeld welcomed that idea and asked him to get back to her when he had the data.

ENDS

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