Maori Television Trust Settled

  • Maurice Williamson

The Minister of Maori Affairs, the Hon Tau Henare and the Minister of Communications, the Hon Maurice Williamson, today announced further decisions on the Government's Maori television policy.

The Government decided in May of this year that:

the Crown, through Te Mangai Paho, would retain responsibility for purchasing Maori language programmes for broadcast - additional funding of $16.875 m per annum was approved;

Maori, through a Maori television trust, should have governance of UHF frequencies reserved for the promotion of Maori language and culture and a one-off capital sum of up to $11.36 m, necessary for the establishment of a nation-wide Maori television channel;

a small group, appointed by the Ministers of Maori Affairs and Communications, would be formed to develop detailed proposals for the establishment of the trust/operation of the channel - Bill Falconer, Whai Dewes, Robyn Bargh, Ian Taylor and Waihoroi Shortland were subsequently appointed.

The establishment group has now completed its work. Its report has been discussed widely with Maori. One of its key recommendations is that trustees for the Maori television trust should be appointed by an electoral college comprising Maori organisations involved with Maori language promotion and broadcasting.

"The establishment group has proposed a sound business and governance structure for the Maori television trust and channel, and the Government has endorsed it", the Ministers said.

"The Government is delighted that leading Maori language organisations, as well as Maori broadcasting organisations, have agreed to join the electoral college for making appointments to the Maori television trust", the Ministers said.

The organisations concerned are: Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Maori (Maori Language Commission), Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, Te Runanganui o Nga Kura Kaupapa Maori (national co-ordinating body for Kura Kaupapa Maori),Te Whakaruruhau o Nga Reo Irirangi o Aotearoa (Federation of Maori Radio Stations), Nga Aho Whakari (Maori television producers' group), Kawea Te Rongo (Maori Journalists Association) and Te Ataarangi Inc (teaches Maori language).

"One of the key messages from recent consultations with Maori was the need for the Government to give a firm commitment to Maori language television. The Government has confirmed funding for at least the next five years.

Our expectation is that this will allow a reasonable number of quality Maori language programmes to be brought to air on both the channel and on mainstream television, but if this proves not to be the case, funding levels can always be reconsidered", the Ministers said.

Now that the Maori television trust has been formed, the next step will be for the electoral college to appoint trustees. Trustees can then develop a business plan for the establishment of a Maori language television channel, at which point UHF frequencies and capital funds will be transferred to the trust.

"The development of the Government's Maori television policy has been a long time in the making. In the interests of the Maori language, it is now time to move on and get quality Maori language programmes to air as soon as possible", the Ministers concluded.