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Urgent Debate: Maori Television Service

Urgent Debate: Maori Television Service
Te Ururoa Flavell, MP for Waiariki
Tuesday 20 October 2009; 4pm

Tēnā koe, Mr Speaker. Kia ora tātou katoa e te Whare. As one would expect, the Māori Party is proud to stand in the House to promote the incredible success and unique status of our indigenous broadcaster, Māori Television. This urgent debate today gives us the opportunity, one would have thought, to sing the praises of a world-class indigenous broadcaster. Whakaata Māori hei pourewa pāpāho taketake kei ngā taumata o te ao.

Right at the very top end of broadcasting in this nation, and indeed, in front of the world, and I will come back to that shortly. For the last 6 years the Māori Television Service as a statutory corporation has earned a place at the very heart of every New Zealander for the way in which it presents a unique New Zealand identity within a global society. Although many people of Aotearoa thought that Māori Television would limit its service and be applicable only to Māori people in fact research tells us that large numbers of New Zealanders latch on to Māori Television for the way in which it presents New Zealand society.

It is in this context that we enter another space—a sacred space within our nation—the special respect accorded to the national sport of rugby. I stand here to celebrate and to salute the brilliant initiative pioneered by the Māori Television Service, *Te Puni Kōkiri, and, of course, the Minister of Māori Affairs, focusing around the free-to-air broadcast of the Rugby World Cup.

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This is an idea that is transformational at its essence and I want to encourage the House to pause a few seconds and take time to be proud of the showcase broadcaster. Just over a month ago Māori Television Service won a gold award at a ceremony in Sydney promoting the creative endeavours of the marketing professionals working in the electronic media. The Promax/BDA international award honoured Māori Television for the way in which its reporters are out there amongst the people, getting the stories on the ground and on the issues that matter right across every rohe of the country.

In fact the phrase that encapsulates Māori Television Service, “Ko Ngai Matou, Ko Ngai Tatou” is what gives Māori Television the edge over international competitors with far greater budgets and staffing levels. This is the television of the people. This is the station of Aotearoa and we should be proud of it. With that regard, what better vehicle than this one to ensure that every All Black game, every element of the Rugby World Cup tournament is also broadcast on Māori Television because it is a unique opportunity to showcase Aotearoa in our most positive light, including our culture, our society, and our economy.

The Rugby World Cup is the most exciting opportunity that this country will have for a long period of time to present the face of the nation to the world. Let us, for a second, consider what it means to Māori Television to be the lead broadcaster, because that is the term it has managed to secure with the help, of course, of the lead team working on this bid recently.

I listened earlier to Mr Goff saying that here was an event that was a wonderful opportunity to present New Zealand to the world, and I absolutely agree. There is such a strong field of opportunities outside and beyond the goal posts and this is the sort of thing that Minister Sharples, Te Puni Kōkiri, and the Māori Television Service were thinking about several months ago when they were pulling together the bid to submit to broadcast the occasion, for the satellite that we are looking at will now enable a huge amount of returns on the investment.

This is a Government that is prepared to promote Māori language and culture by supporting Māori Television, a broadcaster that from its very definition promotes Māori language as the cornerstone of Māori culture. This is a Government that is prepared to invest in the Māori Television Service as a platform for Māori cultural development, to be proud of our national identity and to show that to the world. But of course there are many other outcomes and benefits that have been associated with *Te Aratuku Whakaata Irirangi Māori Act—that Act that basically set up Māori Television as a statutory corporation. High in our priorities have been the significant opportunities for job creation in the Māori broadcasting sector, and well beyond, as a part of the Rugby World Cup.

Minister Sharples was very much instrumental in trying to promote that cause to the nation. I am delighted that Dr Sharples has the vision and the insight to endorse the proposal to support training for young Māori in broadcasting and *information and communications technology industries.

That is an important drop-down from this bid. As a natural consequence, surely the Māori broadcasting sector will grow, and that also provides huge benefits into the future. At its very minimum, of course, the success of the Rugby World Cup bid will enable Māori Television to increase its viewer base and to substantially increase its current advertising revenue of approximately $1 million per annum. We have to be behind that sort of discussion.

We supported the joint announcement by the Prime Minister, Mr Key, and Dr Sharples in supporting the joint bid as the best way to ensure free-to-air access to all matches, and at the same time showcase Māori culture. There are, of course, many, many other outcomes that come from this broadcast—in fact, too many to limit to the 10 minutes I have today. We know that the Māori Televsion proposal has excited Māori people from up and down the country.

The Māori Party has been inundated with messages of support and congratulations on promoting, acknowledging, and supporting this bid by Māori Television, because of the energy and passion it will bring to this particular broadcast—an ability to strut its stuff on the national and international stage. In the past Māori Television has been well known for its high-calibre broadcasts: the broadcast of Sir Howard Morrison’s tangi; its broadcasts on Waitangi Day and Anzac Day; and the tangi for Queenie Te Atairangikaahu*.

In fact, Māori Television has taken Māori culture into our living rooms and kitchens so that all Aotearoa can celebrate our unique identity as Aotearoa. A part of that is, of course, that we need the Māori element that Māori Television brings to this discussion. It promotes “Brand Māori”; it celebrates Māori success; it promotes Māori tourism; but also it is a wonderful opportunity to include Māori language and culture as a way of celebrating our unique, iconic heritage.

It reflects our national identity to an international audience, and we hope this will create lasting benefits for all New Zealanders. Of course, there are some who have been pretty negative about the bid. We want to think that we can move forward positively with this bid as a unique opportunity that New Zealand will be able to use to present ourselves not only to ourselves but also to address some of the issues about the possibility of every broadcast being in the Māori language.

Let us get with the programme; that has not happened on Māori Television thus far for any event, so we do not have to worry about that. Also, the mere fact that Māori Television has engaged the other broadcasters allows us to address the issue of coverage to ensure that every New Zealander can watch the World Cup in his or her home without fear or having to worry about missing out. In that regard, we absolutely support the proposals that allow for all broadcasters to come together to work together to produce a product that will be in the best interests of Aotearoa New Zealand.


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