Media challenged to recognise Māori journalism talent

Nga Kupu Ora Award print by renowned Māori artist, Associate Professor Ngataiharuru Taepa

News organisations are being challenged to recognise the talent of their own Māori journalists as the finalists in this year’s Massey University Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Journalism and Broadcasting Awards are announced.

The judges were thrilled with the quality of the entries, in particular the large body of work in the current affairs category that made it tough to settle on a winner.

But they were dismayed that too few of the Māori news stories had made prime time and said this failing had serious implications for the accuracy of who and what we see reflected back to us in the mainstream.

Mereana Hond, who joined the judging panel from her current role as an Executive Producer with Al Jazeera in Qatar, says Māori journalists should not have to fight to get their stories before the national audience. “The blockage is around news values and practices.  If we are to effect real change, we need to see producers and publishers valuing Māori journalism. Without meaningful engagement we'll just keep missing out on good stories from te ao Māori that matter to us all.  And our news won't reflect our society or serve Māori well.” 

Fellow judge and Executive Director of Ngā Aho Whakaari, Māori in Screen, Hineani Melbourne also noted the lack of te reo Māori entries in the current affairs arena caused through so few outlets willing to publish longform Māori language stories.  “There is an exciting and flourishing competency in te reo Māori among Māori journalists and news organisations need to embrace this. These awards prove we have the reporters capable of doing incredible current affairs in te reo Māori – they just need the opportunities.”

The third member of the judging panel Chris Wikaira, who was formerly a Māori Issues Correspondent at Radio New Zealand, reflected that he was once the sole Māori reporter at the state broadcaster. “To see the number and calibre of entries coming through from there this year is so heartening. There are so many young Māori journalists who are really just coming into their stride and I’m excited for the future.”

Massey University’s Deputy Vice-Chancellor Māori, Professor Meihana Durie says the awards come at a time when there is a spotlight on how the media treats Māori and at a time of incredible growth in demand for Māori journalism. “These awards recognise the criticality of Māori journalism in Aotearoa but also the important contribution of Māori journalists, who continue to reach the pinnacle of their work often under challenging circumstances. The apology to Māori this week by Stuff, suggests a watershed moment for not only Māori Journalism, but media more broadly. As evidenced by the outstanding calibre of this year’s finalists and their work, Māori journalism is going from strength to strength and Ngā Kupu Ora ensures positive pressure for new opportunities for Māori journalists can be maintained.”

Massey University will host the National Māori Journalism Hui next week to discuss issues around the media industry, with the new Minister of Māori Development, Hon Willie Jackson set to discuss his plans to restructure the sector. The online hui on Thursday 10th of December will be followed by the announcement of winners of the Ngā Kupu Ora Māori Journalism and Broadcasting Awards.

There are four categories, and the finalists are (in alphabetical order)

News in English

Mani Dunlop, RNZ

Meriana Johnsen, RNZ

Carmen Parahi, Stuff

News in te reo Māori

Hania Douglas, TVNZ

Rukuwai Tipene-Allen, Māori Television

Kereama Wright, Māori Television

Current Affairs in English

Te Aniwa Hurihanganui, RNZ

Moana Maniapoto, Māori Television

Tania Page, TVNZ

Current Affairs in te reo Māori

The judges have chosen to award this category to:

Whatitiri Te Wake, TVNZ

The winner of the Te Tohu a Tanara Whairiri Kitawhiti Ngata, Lifetime Achivement Award along with a special commendation will be announced at the awards next week.


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