National | News

Haere rā Newshub - A look back at the Māori journalists who shone

After more than three decades, a mainstay in Aotearoa’s news and current affairs ends tonight.

Tonight marks the final Newshub bulletin, and with its closure, we spoke to reporter Leighton Heikell about how Māori journalists were represented at the network over the last 34 years.

“It’s been pretty emotional, everyone’s sort of in their feels,” says the reporter, who joined the network in 2020.

“There’s a lot of sadness obviously about what we’re losing, but there’s also a lot of people that have been reflecting and feeling pretty grateful to have been part of something so special.”

It all began with 3 National News on November 27, 1989, for a half hour news bulletin.

In 1991 it extended to a whole hour, before becoming 3 News in 1998.

It’s been the breeding ground for some of Maoridom’s most well-known journalists.

Among them, Oriini Kaipara (Ngāti Tīwharetoa, Ngāti Awa, Ngāi Tūhoe), who broke the glass ceiling at TVNZ when reading the news with her moko kauae, before she took her place as an anchor for Newshub.

Also one of Aotearoa’s biggest household names, Mike McRoberts (Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa) who has been the face of the 6pm bulletin for the past 19 years.

Carol Hirshfeld, Bailey Mackey, Mihingarangi Forbes and Te Ao with Moana’s Te Rina Kowhai are among the many Māori reporters who have come through the ranks, reporting on one of our country’s biggest news platforms.

Heikell says Māori representation is crucial in mainstream spaces like Newshub.

“Newshub has always tried to tell Māori stories well and foster Māori journalists.”

He highlights reporting at Waitangi Day with Mike McRoberts as a standout moment from his time at Newshub.

“It’s really important to have Māori voices involved in that storytelling to portray the essence of what Waitangi means.”

The announcement of Newshub’s closure was made in March, but Heikell says the news wasn’t necessarily a shock.

“We knew things were changing, we’re not stupid you know - the writings been on the wall in some ways,”

“But I guess to lose everything in one hit was pretty sad.

“It has been a hard slog these last couple of months but when you have a team like we do at Newshub, [you] continue to show up to work every day.”

This closure saw almost 300 job cuts across the network, but many have pivoted into other media roles - including Heikell who will start reporting for The Hui next week.

“I’m pretty excited to try something new and really try my hand at long format news,”

“I’m really excited to learn from them and be able to tell stories that really matter to our people and our communities.”

Heikell says the new Stuff bulletin launches tomorrow, with a handful of Newshub’s best and brightest crew jumping onboard.

“It won’t be exactly the same but it’s still exciting,”

“There’s still gonna be news on Three and [we’re] excited to see what they manage to do.”