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Williams and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2003-184

Members

  • J R Morris (Chair)
  • R Bryant
  • Tapu Misa
  • Diane Musgrave
  • P Adds - Co-opted Member

Complainant

  • Wiremu Te Rauna Williams of Moerewa

Dated

19th December 2003

Number

2003-184

Programme

Holmes

Channel/Station

TV One

Broadcaster

Television New Zealand Ltd


Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Holmes – use of archive footage of haka during item about foreshore and seabed dispute – inaccurate – unfair

Findings
Standard 5 – use of footage not misleading or inaccurate – no uphold

Standard 6 – use not unfair to any person or group – no uphold

This headnote does not form part of the decision


Summary

[1] Archive footage of a haka performed at Waitangi beach was used in a Holmes item about the dispute over ownership of the foreshore and seabed. The programme was broadcast on 19 August 2003 at 7.00pm on TV One.

[2] Wiremu Te Rauna Williams complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the use of the archive footage was inaccurate and amounted to “fraud and betrayal”, as it had no connection to the seabed and foreshore debate.

[3] When the broadcaster failed to respond to his formal complaint, Mr Williams referred it to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.

[4] In its response to the Authority, TVNZ maintained that the item was neither inaccurate nor unfair. It considered that the use of the footage was symbolically relevant to the item as it highlighted a contrast between Māori and Pakeha culture and represented Māori links with the sea.

For the reasons below, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Decision

[5] The members of the Authority have viewed a video of the programme complained about and have read the correspondence which is listed in the Appendix. The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[6] Mr Peter Adds, Senior Lecturer in Māori Studies at Victoria University, was co-opted as a person whose qualifications and experience were likely to be of assistance to the Authority.

Programme

[7] Archive footage of a haka performed at Waitangi beach was used in a Holmes item. The item focussed on the Māori perspective of the dispute between Māori and the Crown over ownership of the foreshore and seabed. The programme was broadcast on 19 August 2003 at 7.00pm on TV One.

Complaint

[8] Mr Williams complained that the use of archive footage of the haka was an “inaccurate portrayal” which amounted to “fraud and betrayal”.

The Complainant’s Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority

[9] As Mr Williams failed to receive a response to his formal complaint from TVNZ within 20 working days, he referred his complaint to the Authority.

Standards

[10] After the Authority referred the complaint to TVNZ, the broadcaster assessed it under Standards 5 and 6 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. The Standards read:

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 Authority

[11] TVNZ apologised for not responding to Mr Williams’ complaint, which it said it had no record of having received. It then recommended that the Authority decline to uphold the complaint.

[12] TVNZ explained that the item endeavoured to provide a Māori perspective on the seabed and foreshore debate. TVNZ considered that it could be argued that:

the haka was symbolically relevant in a context which implicitly [highlighted] a contrast in the cultures of Māori and Pakeha.

[13] TVNZ continued:

The first time the haka sequence was used it was accompanied by the words “two cultures”, and there are few images as symbolic of Māori culture as the haka.

The sequences were not used in a manner which directly linked the haka and the seabed issue. But they were used in the context of the link between Māori and the sea – and in that sense the performance of the haka at the water’s edge was an evocative image.

[14] In relation to Standard 5, TVNZ did not consider the Standard was breached as the item was truthful and accurate and the use of the haka symbolism was appropriate.

[15] As to Standard 6, TVNZ maintained that the item fairly reflected a range of Māori views on the seabed and foreshore issue.

Authority’s Determination

[16] The Authority’s task is to determine whether broadcasting standards relating to accuracy and fairness were breached by the use of archival footage of part of a haka performance in the item complained about.

[17] The Authority makes two preliminary observations. First, in the Authority’s view, the part of the haka shown in the item was too fleeting for a viewer to draw any conclusions about its exact origin and significance. From the brief footage, the Authority was not able to conclude that there was anything tapu about this haka. The haka clearly had been publicly performed and it seems that the footage had been previously broadcast, presumably in relation to Waitangi Day celebrations.

[18] Secondly, the Authority notes that the haka was not used in connection with a story which portrayed Māori in a negative light. In fact, the Authority considers that its association with an item which approached the seabed and foreshore ownership issue from a Māori perspective may have been perceived by some viewers as positive.

[19] Turning to the submissions made by the parties, the Authority acknowledges the complainant’s concerns, but does not consider that broadcasting standards were breached on this occasion. It agrees with the broadcaster that the item was truthful and accurate. It also agrees that the haka footage was appropriately used to symbolise the link between Māori and the sea, and to illustrate the contrast between Māori and Pakeha culture. Accordingly, the Authority finds that Standard 5 was not breached by the broadcast.

[20] As to Standard 6, the Authority does not consider that any person or group was treated unfairly by the broadcast, for the reasons given above. The Authority also declines to uphold this aspect of the complaint.

[21] The Authority also notes the complainant’s concern that the broadcaster failed to respond to his original complaint. As the broadcaster had no record of receiving the complaint the Authority has decided, on this occasion, not to take the matter further.

 

For the above reasons, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Joanne Morris
Chair
19 December 2003

Appendix

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

1.  Wiremu Williams’ Complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd – 25 August 2003
2. Mr Williams’ Referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority – received 6 October 2003
3. TVNZ’s Response to the Authority – 30 October 2003