Topic: Te Reo Māori

Potential conflicts around Te Mātāwai appointments

By Talisa Kupenga
  • Auckland

Labour MP Peeni Henare says News and Current Affairs presenters appointed to the Te Mātāwai Board could encounter conflicts of interest given they are presenters for rival news and current affairs programmes. Te Karere and Marae presenter Scotty Morrison is the latest appointment to the board.

Henare says Te Mātāwai board members like Scotty Morrison and Willie Jackson could present a conflict of interest in their new roles.

“This isn't to say he should step down from his role in broadcasting, but he should think about whether or not there is a conflict of interest between his current work and the new role.”

A key responsibility of Te Mātāwai is to make adjustments to the functions of Te Māngai Pāho, the Māori Language Commission, and Māori Television.

Te Mātāwai’s Iwi Radio, Ngā Aho Whakaari representative Scotty Morrison says, “If I become aware of a conflict of interest or if a conflict presented itself that is when my producers and I would decide what the best approach would be so that the conflict doesn't obstruct or make decisions problematic for Te Mātāwai.”

Willie Jackson, the urban Māori representative on the board who also fronts current affairs programmes like Marae and Waatea 5th Estate, says he wears many hats.

“That is not a problem. I do not believe this is a conflict of interest in the Māori world. That talk is a waste of time. Tell Peeni to focus on his own job because many people want his seat. I have heard that a lot of people want his seat.”

Henare says, “If anything was to happen, I am here to challenge and critique the decisions of Te Mātāwai. There is the potential for some of the members including Scotty and others to encounter a conflict of interest.”

In conjunction with the Minister for Māori Development and the Minister of Finance, Te Mātāwai board members will provide oversight and direction to the Māori Television Service. This will include both Morrison and Jackson.

Minister for Māori Development Te Ururoa Flavell says, “At the end of the day, they were elected to fill the position. Whether or not there is a conflict of interest is up to them.”

Both Morrison and Jackson say that despite the issues raised by Henare, they will not be stepping down. However, if a conflict of interest does occur in their roles regarding decision making, the pair would remove themselves from those proceedings.

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