Kaumātua ‘annoyed’ with Northland paper’s misinformation on first settlers

By Kawe Kōrero Reporters , Kayne Ngātokowhā Peters
  • Northland

 Image: Ben Hita.

A Northland kaumātua says a story published by the Northern Advocate titled “Pre Maori Northlanders?”  has caused frustration among his people.

This comes after the New Zealand Press Council upheld a complaint about the Northern Advocate story and agree that it was incorrect.

Kaumātua of Te Uri-o-Hau, Ben Hita, spoke to Kawe Kōrero Reporters. He says he expects an apology.

“If not kanohi ki te kanohi, at least a written form of an apology.”

Hita believes ancestral bones the Northern Advocate story refers to were taken from his tribal lands and handled without consultation with his iwi.

Kawe Kōrero approached the editor of the Northern Advocate, Craig Cooper, for his reaction to the Press Council decision.

Cooper said he will not be commenting on the decision. He says, "We accept it and we've moved on". 

Hita says, “To me it shows their lack of understanding in regards to tikanga Māori. It shows me that it’s virtually nil in regards to when they are dealing with kaupapa regarding ancestral taonga of this nature.”

In the Press Council’s decision report, it says they “found the story published in the Northern Advocate on May 13 breached basic journalistic principals of accuracy, fairness and balance.”

“The paper failed to check with the unnamed experts Mr Hilliam cited or any other credible historic or forensic experts to test whether his claims could be valid. The story should not have been published without rudimentary checks.”

Kawe Kōrero Reporters also approached the complainant to the Press Council, Ewan Morris, who says "I am satisfied with the Press Council decision on my complaint and don't plan to make any further comment on it".