BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Cooke and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2008-056

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • P David J Cooke
One News
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
One News – after an item about duck hunting maimais, the news presenter stated “a man needs his cave” – allegedly in breach of good taste and decency

Standard 1 (good taste and decency) – complainant mistaken – broadcaster’s response adequate – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]   An item on One News, broadcast on TV One at approximately 6.55pm on Friday 2 May 2008, reported on a group of duck-hunting “Southern men” who held an annual award ceremony for the best maimai (a camouflaged construction that shelters and hides duck hunters). The item looked at two different maimais, one consisting of a raised camouflaged caravan, and the other a small house-like structure that had running water, beer on tap and SKY television.

[2]   After the reporter had signed off, the news presenters made the following comments:

Presenter 1:    A man needs his cave, although [the reporter’s] clothes might not have
                      gone down too well.

Presenter 2:    Exactly. Southern men eh? Beer, running water, SKY TV – the perfect


[3]   P David J Cooke made a formal complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, alleging that the item had breached standards of good taste and decency.

[4]   The complainant argued that the presenter had said “send man back to his cave”. He believed the comment was “arrogant, deliberately intended to cause offence and openly contemptuous”.


[5]   TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 1 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice. It provides:

Standard 1 Good Taste and Decency

In the preparation and presentation of programmes, broadcasters are responsible for maintaining standards which are consistent with the observance of good taste and decency.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[6]   TVNZ pointed out that the presenter had actually stated “a man needs his cave”, not “send man back to his cave” as contended by Mr Cooke. It explained that the presenter was referring to the well-known concept of a “man-cave”, which was “often defined as a sanctuary for men, where they can be men without female interruption”.

[7]   The broadcaster argued that the presenter’s comment was light-hearted and would not have offended a significant number of viewers. TVNZ declined to uphold the complaint.

Referral to the Authority

[8]   Dissatisfied with TVNZ’s response, Mr Cooke referred his complaint to the Authority under section 8(1B)(b)(i) of the Broadcasting Act 1989. He reiterated the argument contained in his formal complaint.

Authority's Determination

[9]   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.

[10]   Having viewed the item, the Authority notes that the presenter said “a man needs his cave”, not “send man back to his cave” as alleged by the complainant. This was pointed out to Mr Cooke in TVNZ’s decision.

[11]   As Mr Cooke’s complaint was based on a mistake, and no issues of broadcasting standards are raised by the presenter’s actual comment, the Authority declines to uphold the complaint that the item breached Standard 1 (good taste and decency).


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

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
13 August 2008


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

1.            P David J Cooke’s formal complaint – 12 May 2008
2.           TVNZ’s response to the formal complaint – 10 June 2008
3.           Mr Cooke’s referral to the Authority – 11 June 2008
4.           TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 25 June 2008
5.           Further submissions from Mr Cooke to the Authority – 4 July 2008