New Zealand First MP and regional development minister Shane Jones is calling for resignations at Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori broadcasting funding agency over funding for a series of English language social media videos, after one video sparked controversy for its poor tone.
Te Māngai Pāho funded a series of videos by production company Hahana, which used social media influencers to create youth-oriented content for young Māori.
The group created a satirical video for Māori language week, which featured influencers calling for the end of te reo Māori. The call was a joke, but it was received poorly.
Mr Jones says there was a lack of oversight from Te Māngai Pāho and is calling on the organisation’s executive to resign. He says that it’s inappropriate for Te Māngai Pāho to be funding English-language programmes that don’t respect te reo Māori at a time when regional iwi radio stations, which also depend on Te Māngai Pāho funding, were struggling.
“This is Māori Language Week, and we’ve had the Māori broadcasting entity, I’m advised, spending $1 million on these English-language programmes where they’ve got cultural grasshoppers trying to be smarter by spoofing the Māori language,” Mr Jones said.
“I’d rather see this dough go to the Ratana church brass band,” he said.
Jones said that as an NZ First MP, he, like his leader Winston Peters, pays particularly close attention to the network of iwi radio stations around the country. Peters and Jones speak to Radio Waatea weekly and he tries to speak to three iwi radio stations a week.
He said these iwi radio stations are currently being deliberately underfunded, which is why the decision to fund Hahana was so disrespectful.
“Māori language radio is starving, it’s being deliberately underfed,” Mr Jones said.
“There’s an absence of an overarching clear plan,” he said.