Maori Television Gets the Green Light

  • Maurice Williamson
Communications

The Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon Tau Henare and the Minister of Communications, the Hon Maurice Williamson, today announced increased funding and a related structure to promote the Maori language through television broadcasting.

The Crown has an obligation under the Treaty of Waitangi to promote the Maori language. The Courts have clearly indicated to the Crown that it must take steps to promote the Maori language through television broadcasting. The Government has been considering how best to give effect to its Maori television policy, in consultation with Maori.

"The Government wants to ensure that good quality, cost effective Maori language programming goes to air on prime time television as soon as possible. It has consulted widely with Maori on how Maori television services should be delivered. Maori want the Government to get on and deliver Maori television services. A strong theme of the consultations was the need for a nationwide Maori television channel aimed at Maori language promotion.

The Government has decided that Maori language programmes will be purchased through Te Mangai Paho on a competitive basis and the assets necessary to establish a nationwide Maori television channel will be managed by a Maori trust", the Ministers said.

Te Mangai Paho's funding will be increased by $16.875 million per annum. Together with funding already available under the Public Broadcasting Fee, Te Mangai Paho will have approximately $19 million to purchase Maori language programmes for broadcasting on the main television networks and other broadcasters, including a Maori television channel.

A small group is being established to advise on the establishment of a Maori trust to manage television frequencies set aside for the promotion of Maori language culture and a capital sum necessary to establish a Maori television channel. The Government will consider making available to the trust a further one-off payment of up to $11 million for this purpose.

"Combined with existing funding being provided for promoting the Maori language through radio broadcasting ($9.3 million in 1997/98), this amounts to a significant increase in funding for Maori language promotion through broadcasting," the Ministers concluded.

The establishment group for the Maori trust will complete its work over the next few months, and detailed arrangements are expected to be announced by September 1998. The Ministers of Maori Affairs and Communications will be announcing membership of the group shortly.

Further work is to be undertaken on what steps can be taken to improve opportunities for the training of Maori broadcasters, especially in television.