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Whaanga-Kipa and Māori Television - 2007-112

Members

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Tapu Misa
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Paul France

Complainant

  • Kim Whaanga-Kipa of Palmerston North

Dated

24th January 2008

Number

2007-112

Programme

Native Affairs

Channel/Station

Māori Television

Broadcaster

Māori Television


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Native Affairs – item looked at the work Te Whanau Manaaki O Manawatu Trust was doing for Māori suffering from alcohol, drug and violence issues – item contained interviews with two people who were part of the trust’s recovery programmes – item contained footage of gang members – presenter made various statements about the interviewees – allegedly inaccurate and unfair

Findings
Standard 5 (accuracy) – statement about being drug and alcohol-free related to the parties, not Mr B and Ms D themselves – statement relating to the trust’s DHB funding inaccurate – action taken by the broadcaster to rectify the inaccuracy appropriate in the circumstances – not upheld

Standard 6 (fairness) – standard applies to individuals and organisations not communities – not unfair for the broadcaster to use library footage of gangs – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


Broadcast

[1]  An item on Native Affairs, broadcast on Māori Television on 9 and 10 September 2007, looked at an organisation called Te Whanau Manaaki O Manawatu Trust (the Trust) in Palmerston North. The item focused on the work the Trust was doing to help local people with alcohol, drug and family violence issues. The item included interviews with Kim Whaanga-Kipa, a representative of the Trust, and Mr B and Ms D, who had both taken part in rehabilitation and recovery courses run by the Trust. 

[2]   Mr B was introduced in the item as being a former Mongrel Mob gang member and library footage was shown of gang members. During the broadcast on 9 September, the footage of the gang members was unpixilated and gang patches for the Manawatu Mongrel Mob were visible. The footage was pixilated for the 10 September broadcast of the item so that the gang patches could not be seen.   

Complainant

[3]   Kim Whaanga-Kipa made a formal complaint to Māori Television, the broadcaster, alleging that footage showing gang members during the item implied a connection between Mr B and the Manawatu Mongrel Mob. She stated that the 9 September broadcast contained footage of identifiable gang members, and that it had implied a connection between Mr B and those identifiable gang members. The complainant argued that this implication was untrue and that the item had put Mr B and his family’s safety at risk. 

[4]   The complainant believed that the Highbury community had received a lot of negative media attention in the past few years and that it had been working hard to reclaim itself as a positive whanau-focused area to live in. Ms Whaanga-Kipa maintained that the community’s hard work had been set back by the item including the footage of gangs because it implied that Highbury was a gang community.

[5]    Ms Whaanga-Kipa argued that the narrator had stated that Mr B and Ms D were drug and alcohol-free. She maintained that this was inaccurate as Mr B had made it very clear during the item that he was still struggling with issues relating to drugs and alcohol. The complainant pointed out that the statement had had repercussions for Mr B, as some local people now viewed him as a hypocrite.

[6]   The complainant noted that towards the end of the item, the programme’s host stated that the Trust was the only Kaupapa Māori service providing rehabilitation programmes that were funded by a District Health Board (DHB). Ms Whaanga-Kipa pointed out that this statement was incorrect.

Standards

[7]   Standards 5 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice are relevant to the determination of this complaint. These provide:

Standard 5 Accuracy

News, current affairs and other factual programmes must be truthful and accurate on points of fact, and be impartial and objective at all times.

Standard 6 Fairness

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are required to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[8]   Māori TV stated that the item was attempting to tell a positive story of rehabilitation and that it had to tell the negative story in order to give context to the positive story.

[9]   The broadcaster argued that the gang footage shown in the item was generic library footage, it only lasted 4.5 seconds, no faces were shown, the shots of the gang members were from behind and there was no way to tell what gang the members belonged to due to pixilated blurring.

[10]   Māori TV did not believe that the item had shown Highbury as a gang community. It maintained that “the footage had demonstrated what the story was about and no harm was meant or intended”.

[11]  With respect to the statement that Mr B and Ms D were drug and alcohol-free, the broadcaster maintained that the actual statement made was “while parties are still a part of [Mr B and Ms D’s] lives, they are now drug and alcohol-free”. It believed that the statement was referring to the parties being alcohol and drug-free, not Mr B and Ms D.

[12]   Māori TV agreed that the item’s statement about the Trust being “the only Kaupapa Māori service providing rehabilitation to the community, funded by the local DHB” was incorrect. It apologised to the Trust and stated that it was willing to broadcast a correction in an upcoming episode of the programme.

Referral to the Authority

[13]   Dissatisfied with Māori TV’s decision, Ms Whaanga-Kipa referred her complaint to the Authority under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. The complainant reiterated her concerns about the alleged inaccuracies and unfairness contained in the item.

[14]   The complainant maintained that the gang footage contained in the item broadcast on 9 September “showed faces” of people that she could identify and clearly showed “Aotearoa Mongrel Mob gang patches”. Ms Whaanga-Kipa stated that after viewing the first broadcast she had contacted Māori TV and informed it of her concerns. She said that in response to her call, Māori TV pixilated the (gang) patches out and took out a clip that had clearly identified people involved in a confrontation before it broadcast the item again on 10 September.

[15]   Ms Whaanga-Kipa stated that while she was aware the “full picture” was difficult to portray in a 10-minute item, she believed that Māori TV had been “flippant” with regard to her concerns over the gang footage. The complainant maintained that before the item was broadcast, she had emailed the producers of the item asking that no video footage be shown and that she had sent through some photos they could use instead. The complainant argued that the broadcaster had sensationalised the facts and had not acknowledged the impact that the gang footage had on Mr B and the Highbury community.

[16]   The complainant noted that Māori TV had apologised for stating that the Trust was the only DHB funded Māori provider of rehabilitation programmes within the Highbury community. However, she believed that while the broadcaster had sent the Trust an apology, it was left to the Trust to forward the apology on to other Māori providers in the region. She argued that this matter should be “rectified publicly”.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[17]   Māori TV confirmed that the footage contained in the item broadcast on 10 September had been pixilated “in response to a request from the Trust”. The broadcaster maintained that Mr B had told the item’s compilers that he was an ex-member of the Mongrel Mob. It said that the item had not stated that he was connected to the Manawatu chapter of the gang.

[18]   Māori TV argued that “no one can dispute that there has been gang-related violence in Highbury”, and that the item had not stated that Highbury was a gang community, but that “it has had its share of gang related violence”. It believed that the complainant had chosen to interpret the comment as meaning Highbury was a gang community.

[19]   The broadcaster noted that the item mentioned that Mr B and Ms D were struggling with issues relating to drugs and alcohol abuse, and that the “drug and alcohol-free” statement referred to the type of parties they now attended.  

[20]   Māori TV stated that it was going to broadcast an apology and that the complainant had assisted with the wording.  

Authority's Determination

[21]   The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[22]   The Authority was unable to view an unpixilated version of the item, as the broadcaster had pixilated its master tape.

Standard 5 (accuracy)

[23]   The accuracy standard requires that news and current affairs and other factual programmes be truthful and accurate on points of fact. The Authority considers that the statement “while parties are still part of [Mr B and Ms D’s] lives, they are drug and alcohol-free” is ambiguous. However, it is of the view that the reporter meant that the parties were alcohol and drug-free, not Mr B and Ms D. This is because the statement was made in conjunction with film of a party scene that focused on children and whanau. Accordingly, the Authority finds that the accuracy standard was not breached in this respect.

[24]   In her original complaint, Ms Whaanga-Kipa argued that the item’s statement that the Trust was the only DHB funded Māori provider of rehabilitation programmes within the Highbury community was inaccurate. The broadcaster upheld this aspect of the complaint. Having done so, Māori TV apologised to the complainant and offered to broadcast a public apology during an upcoming episode of Native Affairs. In her referral to the Authority, Ms Whaanga-Kipa stated that she was dissatisfied with the action taken by the broadcaster. Because the broadcaster upheld this part of the accuracy complaint, the Authority’s only task is to consider whether the action taken by the broadcaster in apologising and offering to broadcast a statement was sufficient. In the Authority’s view, the action taken by Māori TV was reasonable and appropriate in the circumstances, and it trusts that Māori TV will follow through with its offer to broadcast a corrective statement. Accordingly, the Authority declines to uphold this part of the complaint.

Standard 6 (fairness)

[25]   The fairness standard requires broadcasters to deal justly and fairly with any person or organisation taking part or referred to in a programme. Ms Whaanga-Kipa complained that the broadcaster did not treat Mr B fairly because it incorrectly linked him with the Manawatu chapter of the Mongrel Mob. In the Authority’s view, the unpixilated footage of Mongrel Mob gang members, combined with the presenter’s statement that Mr B was previously involved with the gang, could have led some viewers to link Mr B to the gang’s Manawatu chapter.

[26]   As to whether the broadcaster treated Mr B fairly, the Authority notes that the complainant has not provided any evidence of specific conditions on Mr B’s involvement in the broadcast, which included not mentioning his gang involvement, or any specific chapter of the Mongrel Mob. Further, the Authority considers that the footage chosen for the item impacted negatively upon Mr B in a way that the broadcaster could not reasonably have foreseen. Finally, the broadcaster acted promptly to pixilate the footage for the second broadcast of the item. In these circumstances, the Authority finds that Mr B was not treated unfairly and it declines to uphold this part of the fairness complaint.

[27]   With respect to Ms Whaanga-Kipa’s complaint that the item portrayed Highbury as a gang community, the Authority points out that the fairness standard only applies to people or organisations. It does not apply to communities. Accordingly, the Authority finds that Standard 6 has no application on this occasion and it declines to uphold this complaint.     

   

For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint under section 11(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
24 January 2008

Appendix

The following correspondence was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1.            Ms Kim Whaanga-Kipa’s formal complaint – 11 September 2007
2.           Māori TV’s decision on the formal complaint – 28 September 2007
3.           Ms Whaanga-Kipa’s referral to the Authority – 23 October 2007
4.           Māori TV’s response to the Authority – 31 October 2007