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NZ: Campbell Live wins award for Samoa tsunami money investigation

John Campbell flanked by Pip Keane and Claudine MacLean at the award ceremony. Photo: Michael Craig/AFTA

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Item: 7729

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Controversial reports by Campbell Live last year into the tsunami funds donated to Samoa have won the Aotearoa Film and Television Award for Investigation of the Year.

In a move that is sure to irk the Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, the AFTA was given to New Zealand's TV3 crew of John Campbell and producers Pip Keane and Claudine Maclean.

The Samoan PM failed in his efforts to bring an action against TV3 for the reports and the last news was that he had appealed the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) decision against him.

Cultural clash
The contentious report into the Samoan government's spending of aid money and lack of accountability was seen by many as misleading and even offensive to Samoans, with little cultural appreciation for the lifestyles and kinds of housing that Samoans typically use.

However, others were pleased with the report, saying it was the only investigation that was attempting to hold the government to account for the generous amounts of donations received by international aid organisations, as well as countries and individuals.

The reports were featured on Radio New Zealand's Mediawatch programme last year, which concluded that Campbell Live's aims were admirable, but the approach could have been more culturally sensitive.

Radio New Zealand International sourced comment from the head of NZAID at the time, who was very positive about the rebuilding work undertaken by the Samoan government, in contrast to the content of the Campbell Live reports.

Still not accountable
However, after continual promises of outlining the amounts of funds received and where they were allocated, the Samoan government has not been able to do so more than two years on.

The Post-Tsunami Recovery Plan for 2010–2013 outlined plans for spending, but was not clear on exactly what had been received and by who.

In other AFTA awards, Māori Television received awards for the best current affairs programme Native Affairs; children's/youth programme with Kaitangata Twitch; the best information programme for Whare Maori; as well as the best Māori language programme for E Tū Kahikatea.

The AFTA Awards this year involved 98 judges looking at 657 entries to determine the finalists in 61 categories.

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Campbell Live tsunami reports:
Where has the tsunami relief money gone?

Samoa tsunami: has aid been used effectively?

Full list of AFTA Awards

About the authors

PMC profile photograph

Alex Perrottet

PMW contributing editor 2011-2012

Alex Perrottet is a journalist who has completed a Masters degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at AUT University.

PMC profile photograph

Pacific Media Watch

PMC's media monitoring service

Pacific Media Watch is compiled for the Pacific Media Centre as a regional media freedom and educational resource by a network of journalists, students, stringers and commentators.
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The Tsunami Report has been made public

The full audited accounts of the tsunami report has been available since September:

You will note that the figures arrived at by Campbell Live are different to the figures in this report because Campbell Live included figures from world and regional organisations and governments which had ALREADY been committed to Samoa long before the tsunami hit Samoa, for the purposes of the Samoa Development Strategy 2008-2012 and also for the purposes of weathering the global financial crisis. Campbell Live took those amounts from the World Bank, IMF (& others) and mixed them up with tsunami-specific aid promised to Samoa from governmental and non-governmental sources and presented it as if ALL of that money was what the Samoan government had received just after the tsunami. Campbell Live forgot to denote that a) the Samoan government does not receive funds for the non-governmental organisations like the Red Cross, and b) the aid that was committed to Samoa BEFORE the tsunami was for specific national development goals (eg: the expansion of the power sector and the improvement of water sanitation). They were not just for Aleipata's tsunami recovery, and c) not all that money is received at once. Governments release those monies to Samoa in stages. For example, after stage one of a project is finished and an audited report is filed to account for objectives up to that point, monies for stage two are released.

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