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NZ: TVNZ to discuss top Māori journalist's future over politics

Journalist Shane Taurima did not succeed in becoming the Labour Party's nominee for the Ikarao-Rawhiti byelection. Image: Māori TV.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Item: 8312

Yvonne Tahana
AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch / New Zealand Herald): Television New Zealand broadcaster Shane Taurima will talk to his bosses this week about what role he will have after unsuccessfully contesting the opposition Labour Party's candidacy for the Māori electorate of Ikaroa-Rawhiti.

The forthcoming byelection is to replace a former Māori Affairs cabinet minister, Parekura Horomia, who died last month after holding the seat - one of New Zealand's seven seats reserved for Māori representation - since 1999.

The former editor of Te Karere, who is the current general manager of Māori and Pacific Programmes, lost to Ngati Kahungunu chief executive Meka Whaitiri at the weekend. Of all the candidates, Taurima, one of Māoridom's best journalists, had the most to lose from the race.

Standing for a political party while working at TVNZ means there would be huge perception problems around impartiality to do with newsroom roles - for example, hosting political programme Q&A again.

Yesterday, from Napier he told the Herald he never felt any fear around his decision.

"Obviously, there's no more in front of the camera for me, that's what I've loved to do for the past few years. That's one of the risks you have to take. When you believe so passionately about something you have to give it 110 per cent, and that's exactly what I did. I was certainly aware of the risk." 

Taurima said he had not thought "at all" about whether he would like to be on Labour's list. He would not be drawn on whether the party had offered a high placing at the next election.

Robust process
The weekend's result should have made one thing clear, Taurima said. 

"All the claims that I'd been shoulder tapped and all the rest of it - it goes to show it was a thorough and robust process. It's just a shame some of my former colleagues thought that is something I would have even thought about."

Taurima said he was likely to speak with his bosses about his job within the next week although he is on leave for two weeks.

TVNZ spokeswoman Georgie Hills said Taurima was someone the broadcaster still wanted to employ. Asked if Taurima could continue in his role as a general manager, or if his role may change given his political leanings she said:

"It's appropriate to say in this instance that when he's back in the office in coming days we'll speak to him about issues that have arisen from his candidate bid before we talk to the media about them. TVNZ is acutely aware of the issues.

"Our staff have a right to hold their own views but we expect them to check them at the door when they carry out their editorial duties."

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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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