National | TVNZ Te Reo Tātaki

TVNZ says mātauranga Māori article pulled down in ‘technical glitch’ not due to racist backlash


An article about the maramataka Māori or Māori lunar calendar, was taken down less than 24 hours after being posted on TVNZ’s digital platform, due to a technical error, not because of racist comments.

Heeni Hoterene was featured in the article for her expertise on maramataka Māori. She has 70,000 followers online and has spent decades educating Māori and non-Māori alike on the customary practices of the Māori lunar calendar.

She told Te Ao News that she believed Re: News withdrew the article because of the racist response to the comments it attracted about her views on why she believed Aotearoa-New Zealand’s holiday break should be in winter - not summer - due to the environment and climate of the southern hemisphere.

“After 200 years of Pākehā living here, even to this day they are refusing to acknowledge our mātauranga Māori and the actual environment we are living in,” she said.

In response TVNZ spokesperson Rachel Howard said “This story was not removed from the Re: website. Unfortunately, the Re: site experienced an issue and stories from June 2023 onwards were not visible temporarily.

“Our web team has been working to restore all stories including this one, which is once again accessible on the site. As you will have noticed, social posts remained even while the site link was broken.”

Howard said that TVNZ accepts “robust kōrero on all our stories and comments will be moderated.”

On Wednesday, the Facebook post generated over 200 comments with most being censored.

Hoterene said she wasn’t surprised by the comments but the bigotry, ignorance, and discrimination towards Māori was revealing.

“Kei te mōhio au koirā te āhuatanga o ngā tāngata e pōhehe mai ko ngā Pākehā kei runga, ko ngā Māori kei raro. Ahakoa ka whakarongo i ngā kōrero e whakahāwea nei i tō tatou ao Māori, he kaha tonu te iwi Māori ki te werohia.”

(I know that there are people who mistakenly believe Pākehā are superior to Māori. Although they hear these comments putting down our Māori worldview, Māori people are strong when it comes to challenging this.)

Hoterene claims the problem stems from the current government’s anti-Māori policies and a lack of education in schools about Māori history and culture.

“That’s what is interesting to me - how many people hold on to these traditions and these ways of being, but it doesn’t suit where we are actually living.

“So it’s the resistance by mainstream society to acknowledge that this environment of Aotearoa is a lot different to the northern hemisphere and to actually acclimatise.

This is a time to be productive.”

Te Ao News reported on Friday morning that the item was removed due to the racist comments it generated online. This was updated later that afternoon following the response by TVNZ.