The power of the media and everyday New Zealanders

The power of the media and everyday New Zealanders

June 2, 2016

Most of us already realise our mainstream media has a powerful influence on people. What some of us do not already realise is that our media is neither neutral nor objective.

Chinese New Zealanders, Muslim New Zealanders, Jewish New Zealanders, Pacific New Zealanders, Indian New Zealanders, African New Zealanders and of course Maori New Zealanders: regularly tell the Commission that the media too often misrepresents, sensationalises or fails to include their voices in news stories about them.

Often news stories about ethnic minorities have negative themes and present minorities as problems and not as people. This is not a new phenomenon and with the advent of social media, these prejudices are often amplified.

Dame Susan Devoy, Race Relations Commissioner, who recently spoke at the Ethnic Migrant Refugee Community Engagement Summit about this issue, says that while the media may not be neutral or objective, it does reflect the society we live in.

“There have been a number of examples in recent times of the media’s incorrect treatment and portrayal of ethnic communities in New Zealand.

“The “ban on Christmas’ coverage last year was particularly telling – taking The Commission’s defence of a Migrant Trusts right to use secular language and turning it into a story about how New Zealand’s way of life was at risk from migrants and newcomers.

“The article pushed the buttons of fear and intolerance and served an existing undertone of anti-migrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric: and the immediate response from many New Zealanders was angry, abusive and offensive.”

The article definitely got people talking, but after a month or so the majority of editorials and commentators had realised what we had been saying for weeks: no one was banning Christmas; Kiwis can decide for themselves; New Zealand’s way of life was not in danger.

Māori New Zealanders especially have endured biased treatment by the media in this country since the time the first newspapers were printed. Māori are viewed as “different” whereas Pakeha things are viewed as “normal”.

This treatment was evidenced during the last General Election, where TVNZ’s Vote Compass asked respondents: “How much control should Maori have over their own affairs?”.

If the question was “How much control should Pakeha have over their own affairs?” it is unlikely this question would have made it onto our television screens.

Additionally, The Kiwimeter, TVNZs online survey that went out earlier this year, which would tell you what kind of Kiwi you are. The Commission publicly called out the inclusion of one statement around Maori not receiving special treatment where respondents could give their opinion.

“We called this out as a leading statement that demonstrated a clear bias: Kiwi meter had decided that Maori receive ‘special treatment’ even though they did not explain what this actually meant,” Dame Susan says.

“This effectively asked us whether Maori New Zealanders deserve fewer human rights than other New Zealanders: it is incredulous that a state broadcaster in 2016 would even pose this kind of question.

“Our top athletes, recording artists, Parliament and even our journalists reflect our nations changing face. We live in one of the most ethnically diverse nations on the planet and that demographic change has taken place in less than a generation.

“Whether we choose to actively work at peace will help decide what kind of country we leave behind us.”


E mārama ana te nuinga o tātau he nui tonu te whakaaweawenga a te hunga pāpāho auraki ki runga i te marea. Heoi anō te mea kāore e mārama ana ki ētahi o tātau, ehara te hunga pāpāho nei i te tōkeke, i te hangarite rānei.

Ko Ngāti Haina ki Aotearoa tērā, ko Ngāti Mahomete ki Aotearoa tērā, ko Ngāti Hūrai ki Aotearoa tērā, ko Ngāti Moana-nui-a-Kiwa ki Aotearoa tērā, ko Ngāti Inia ki Aotearoa tērā, ko Ngāti Āwherika ki Aotearoa tērā, me Ngāi Māori tonu: he rite tonu te kōrero mai a ēnei iwi katoa ki te Kōmihana, ka takahuritia ō rātau reo e te hunga pāpāho, ka whakaohoreretia ā rātau kōrero, ka whakarāwahotia rānei rātau i ngā rongo kōrero mō rātau. 

He nui tonu ngā kaupapa whakatakē i ngā rongo kōrero mō ngā iwi ririki kua huaina ake nei, ā, ka whakaatuhia ngā iwi nei hei raruraru, arā ehara i te tangata. Ehara tēnei i te āhuatanga hou, ā, nō te hounga mai o ngā momo pāhotanga takitahi, ka whakakahatia ngā mahi whakatoihara nei.

Ko Kahurangi Susan Devoy tērā, arā ko te Kaikōmihana Nohotahi-ā-Iwi, i kauhau i nā tata nei mō tēnei āhuatanga ki tētahi Hui Taumata mō te Whaiwāhi a ngā Iwi Manene Rerenga ki te Hapori. Hei tāna, ehara te hunga pāpāho i te tōkeke, i te hangarite rānei engari he whakaaturanga tēnei i te papori e noho nei tātau.

“he nui ngā tauira i ngā tau tata nei o ngā mahi a te hunga pāpāho i hē ai tā rātau whai wāhitanga atu ki ngā iwi ririki ki Aotearoa, i hē hoki tō rātau whakaatu i ngā iwi nei.

“Ka pēhia e te rongo kōrero nei ngā pātene katoa o te whakamataku me te whakatoihara, ka whāngaitia hoki ko ngā kohimuhimu e whakahē ana i te hunga manene me te iwi Mahomete hoki: he riri, he whakaiti, he hākiki hoki ngā kōrero a ētahi o tātau i taua wā tonu.”

Nā tēnei rongo kōrero i tino rere ai te kōrero a te marea, engari ka huri te kotahi marama, kua mārama kē te nuinga o te hunga tuku kōrero ki tā mātau i kī ai i ētahi wiki: kāore tētahi tangata kotahi i rāhui i te Kirihimete; kei te tangata tōna anō tikanga; kāore he whakamōrearea ki te ahurea o Aotearoa.

Kua roa tonu a Ngāi Māori e rongo ana i ngā karawhiu a te hunga pāpāho i tēnei motu, mai i te wā i tāia ai ngā niupepa tuatahi. Ka maharatia a Ngāi Māori he “rerekē”, ā, ko ngā āhuatanga o te ao Pākehā te tino o te ahurea me te tuakiri o te motu.

Ka kitea tēnei āhuatanga i te Pōtitanga Whānui o muri nei, arā, ka pātai te rangahau a Te Reo Tataki ki ngā kaiwhakautu: “me pēhea te nui o te mana o Ngāi Māori ki te whakahaere i a rātau anō?”.

Mehemea rā ka pātaitia te pātai “me pēhea te nui o te mana o Ngāti Pākehā ki te whakahaere i a rātau anō?” kua tino kore nei e kitea ki te pouaka whakaata.

Hei apiti atu, ko te “Kiwimeter” tērā, he rangahau ā-rorohiko i whakahaeretia e Te Reo Tataki i tēnei tau tonu, māna koe e whakamōhio atu he pēhea nei te āhua o tō Kiwitanga. Ka werohia tēnei e te Kōmihana mō tētahi rerenga kōrero i kī ai me kaua e whakawhiwhi whiwhinga motuhake ki te Māori, ā, e wātea ana ki te marea ki te tuku whakaaro.

“Ka weroha tēnei e mātau nō te mea he rerenga kōrero e ārahi nei i te whakautu, e whakaatu ana i tōna whakatoiharatanga: kua oti kē i te “Kiwimeter” te whakarite ka whakawhiwhia a Ngāi Māori ki te whiwhinga motuhake ahakoa anō te korenga ōna i whakamārama ai he aha nei te tikanga e kōrerotia ana,” hei tā Kahurangi Susan.

“E pātai ana tēnei pātai mehemea me iti iho ngā tika tangata e tau ana ki a Ngāi Māori i ō ētahi atu: he ohonga manawa ka pātaitia tēnei momo pātai e te kaipāho a te kāwanatanga i tēnei tau o 2016.

“Kitea ana i ō tātau kaihākinakina, i ō tātau kaiwaiata, i ō tātau kaitōrangapu, i ō tātau kaipāho tonu ko te kanohi panoni o Aotearoa nei. E noho nei tātau ki tētahi o ngā whenua iwi maha o te ao, ā, kua hua mai tēnei āhuatanga ki roto i te whakatipuranga kotahi.

“Kei a tātau te tikanga ki te whai i te māriretanga, mā konei e waihangatia ai te whenua ka whakarerea iho ki muri nei.”

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