Kawea Te Rongo expresses concern about Newshub impact on Māori media

The Independent Māori Journalists Association, Kawea Te Rongo, is “extremely concerned” about the future of journalism in Aotearoa, particularly the impacts on Māori media following Newshub’s announced closure.

“As the wider industry faces uncertainty, we are worried this will have further impacts on Māori media and Journalism,” said Kawea Te Rongo co-chair Ripeka Timutimu (Tūhoe, Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui) on Wednesday evening.

“We have always had to pivot – adaptation is not new for us – but as our numbers and platforms dwindle, the number of Māori in the sector does too, having wider implications on the stories, narratives and diversity of coverage.”

Oriini Kaipara (Ngāti Awa, Tūhoe, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangitihi), a Kawea Te Rongo executive member and former Whakaata Māori and Newshub presenter, said she was deeply saddened by the news.

“This is a huge shock and deeply concerning,” she said.

“I’m gutted. Newshub isn’t just a news service but a very large whānau made up of past and present kaimahi who, I have no doubt, will be feeling the weight of this decision.”

MediaWorks TV3, which launched Newshub in 2016, has had an important role in growing many Māori in the sector, said Mihingarangi Forbes (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Paoa).

The Kawea Te Rongo member and prominent journalist said the network was “wonderful” for Māori.

“TV3 has been a wonderful kōhanga for many practitioners in the Māori media and journalism sector. From its very early days, the leadership recognised that Māori in the newsroom, whether in front or behind the camera, offered something different and unique to story-telling and story development,” said Forbes.

“In the mid-2000s, it opened its news library to Whakataa Māori and formed a sharing partnership; many reporters and producers have crossed back and forth for experience.

“In 2017, Newshub opened up space for The Hui, its first ever Māori current affairs show and more recently Newshub supported the Te Rito journalism project training young cadets and supporting them into the industry.”

Shannon Haunui-Thompson (Ngāpuhi) is the current Tumu Māori at RNZ and a former employee of TV3 for 18 years. Also a Kawea Te Rongo member, she said she is “devastated” for her former colleagues and the industry as a whole.

“As a past employee of the TV3 newsroom, today’s news is absolutely heart-breaking. I honed my craft there and learned from some of the best journalists in the industry. I am where I am now because of the time spent in that newsroom.”

Kawea Te Rongo co-chair Māni Dunlop (Ngāpuhi) said the organisation is calling on government and industry stakeholders to start looking at sustainable solutions that will help future proof news and current affairs in Aotearoa.

“We hope to be a part of constructive and robust discussions for any sector-led solutions going forward, with an expectation they will be innovative, Tiriti-focussed, and reflect the work of so many incredible people in the sector, impacted directly today, who have significantly contributed to creating a credible and reliable fourth estate in Aotearoa while having to face so much turmoil in recent years,” Dunlop said.