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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Now you know I love y'all, but where are the brothers at?

UPDATE | 3pm: Just seen that my co-blogger will be on Jim Mora's show in an hour on the panel. Bugger, I've just written all this and now I'll have to participate in what I'm basically defining as institutional racism by listening to it. The hypocrisy? Stick it to the man, mate. --UPDATE ENDS

Our Pakeha peeps. The only Maori thing about it is the odd subtitle here and there. It's as much as they themselves think they ought to do, and they figure that's more than enough for a government department. A government department of a colonial regime that owns and operates two white radio networks based on tikanga and reo Pakeha called National and Concert. The first to cater primarily to middle class whites, the second upper-middle class.

The content, the language used, the staff and on-air voices are almost exclusively Pakeha with Maori voices and content mainly quarantined in short segments clearly identified as being Maori. Although Maori voices may be heard on other programmes - such as the news and current affairs shows - the position from which they must communicate is inside a Pakeha space - and always to a presumed Pakeha audience.

The Crown gives them a lot of money to do this though they are very reluctant to tell us (if you go to their website to try and find it). Funding is buried over at NZOn Air.That's 31 million to prop up the English language and the Pakeha culture and simultaneously marginalise and diminish the Maori language and culture by claiming the RNZ institution represents New Zealand. It represents Wellington's view of what a New Zealander is in the exact same way that Te Papa museum of NZ does - with the exception that at least RNZ acknowledges the existence of Auckland.

I've been reading Henare Te Ua's memoir and his involvement with Radio NZ. It's like reading something from a black guy who worked for Radio Rhodesia. Not the personal racism, the structure.

Compare this to say Radio Live's Willie Jackson and John Tamihere pairing in the afternoons. There is no Maori voice on RNZ National. There's an Irish voice. There's an English voice. There's a Pakeha voice. Has this ever been a fair representation of "our" voices?

Radio NZ Act : The charter tacks on a token thing about Maori onto clause (b) but it's not worthy of its own point - indeed it is framed only in terms of catering to "cultural diversity" - it is the Pakeha cultural hegemony which is presumed here:And to better reflect reality they may have well added:

(i) a subsidised sense of cultural security to older Pakeha - middle class Wellingtonians and the teaching profession in particular - by broadcasting a wide range of narrow interest programmes with bland and unchanging on-air personnel.

Sadly this has become what is expected from a public service broadcaster. RNZ has a huge legacy audience that doesn't want change and the management are in tune with that. What that means is that Maori - and certainly Pacific and Asian voices too - are minimised. They don't seem to want to bring anyone new over for fear of upsetting anyone they already have. It's a recipe for stagnation. They are in something of a quandry as their cohort dies off. The move to add a very brief greeting in the Maori language before or after the news was met with much vitriol from some RNZ listeners according to Sean Plunket. That is the type of hard-core racism they are running up against over the smallest concession to the indigenous culture.


At 4/2/11 9:41 am, Blogger Damian said...

I went over to their site and found the annual report on the About Us page. One click. The numbers are all there. Reluctant?

At 4/2/11 11:43 am, Blogger Daniel said...

13.6% of New Zealanders tune in to either National or Concert on a weekly basis. The lack of a large amount of Maori-centric programming doesn't make it European focussed. It cost $31mil.

Maori TV cost $38mil last year. Most of that comes directly from the taxpayer.

Is your objection to the lack of Maori programming or that European culture is allowed to be celebrated in a country that is 70% European?

Instead of trying to shake an organisation that is performing well, why don't you get out of your chair and actually try and get public support for a Maori radio station? I almost certainly won't listen, but I certainly won't try and stop you.

At 4/2/11 12:47 pm, Blogger Anita said...

I listen to Radio NZ Concert, and I'm not white, and certainly not 'upper-middle class', whatever that means.

I'm just a regular kiwi who loves listening to RNZ Concert because of its quality programmes.

At 4/2/11 10:27 pm, Blogger James George said...

I like RNZ and listen to it often. I enjoy their discussion format which doesn't just play off people's anger.


NZ is 70% European. Ok. That screenshot of the faces of the presenters looks 100% European.

The article says; 'The content, the language used, the staff and on-air voices are almost exclusively Pakeha with Maori voices and content mainly quarantined in short segments clearly identified as being Maori.'

This is a key point. Maori are mostly given air time to comment only on issues where Maori are the primary focus. Fine they should be given that chance - but is it assumed perhaps they don't have a view on NZ in general?

Several times I've heard the afternoon panel discuss topical issues relating to Maori, but in the instances I've heard the panelists are all Pakeha. So do Maori get to speak in their allotted slot, about Maori and not everything else, but then not get to speak about Maori when it's not their allotted slot?

One shouldn't have to go to a Maori station as the 'only' place to find a Maori voice.

And that just covers the lack of Maori representation. NZ is now a lot more than Pakeha and Maori.

It says RNZ not R70%NZ.

At 5/2/11 4:53 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

Damian: It isn't one click. It's a pdf download of the annual report - you found it in the sidebar I didn't. I tried downloading it just now... corrupt/does not recognise on my computer. Reluctant - yes.

Daniel: You don't get it - try reading the comment by James George. If you want to compare Maori TV at $38m with RNZ at $31m then I suggest you look at how much English language programming is on Maori TV and how much Maori language is on National or Concert. Maori TV has a much greater claim to represent all NZers based on the language quotas than RNZ. Or try listening to yourself (if you can bear it), you say:"Instead of trying to shake an organisation that is performing well, why don't you get out of your chair and actually try and get public support for a Maori radio station?" Firstly it is doing well in terms of what? - Retaining it's elderly Pakeha audience? Retaining it's $31m budget? That's success of sorts, but not in terms of public broadcasting necessarily. Secondly why is that I have to get out of my chair, whereas you can just recline in yours and continue to listen to your Euro-centric RNZ as of... right? As if it doesn't need to be justified.

At 5/2/11 5:03 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

And from the Henare Te Ua memoir (he was in the Maori and Pacific section of RNZ and other RNZ commercial stations for many decades): p.236 "We [his WHENUA! programme]... let Maori negativity be handled by our colleagues, who seemed to focus on this aspect and mainly ignored Maori positive achievments. Waitangi day was a bonanza day with reporters hovering over vociferous Maori and filing slanted stories." - I heard a long quote on RNZ news this afternoon from someone with a megaphone who "heckled" the PM today at Waitangi - nothing much has changed.

At 8/2/11 12:42 pm, Blogger G said...

RNZ is a world class network and the reasons it doesn't have maori voices is not because it doesn't wnat them or recognise them or value them , its becasue it can't source them at an income level it can afford on its measly $31 mill ( Maori TV is $50mill pa actually - with another $20mill for the te reo channel)

The fact that few maori kids want to be journalists is compacted by the problem that the ones who do come through the journalism schools to RNZ are soon after offered huge salaries by Maori TV - and RNZ simply does not have the dollars to compete. ( Good examples would include Gideon porter and Jodi Ihaka - bnoth ex-RNZ and both tempted away by the massive pay cheques from maori TV.)

The RNZ audience is across the board in this country - as liberal as you like, but conservative too. To suggest that the 'legacy audience" controls what happens at RNZ is far from the truth.

At 8/2/11 5:47 pm, Blogger Tim Selwyn said...

S'up G. RNZ can't source Maori broadcasters because they cost too much? That's a new one. How much do they pay the white guys then? How much do they pay Kim Hill for a few hours on a Saturday morning? How much are they paying Simon Mercep? What's the Irish girl's remuneration? They manage to find the dollars for them... but not for Maori broadcasters... they cost too much... ? So RNZ would rather lose those Maori broadcasters than pay them what they are worth? There's not a Maori on that programmes list in the image and we are expected to believe that money is the reason? That cannot be true.

There are a lot of excuses about why the line up is so uniformly pale, and they don't seem very credible. Is it just a coincidence that the line up is Pakeha? Of course not - it's a policy, an unwritten one, but it's quite clear it is there.

If they had a line up of all men and no women we would conclude - without hesitation - that there must be some sort of "glass ceiling" in the organisation. I'm asking you to look at it the same way.


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