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Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2006-124

  • Joanne Morris (Chair)
  • Diane Musgrave
  • Tapu Misa
  • Paul France
  • Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board
Te Karere
TV One

Complaint under section 8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989
Te Karere – item reported that a group described as Te Aukiwa Farm shareholders were evicting farm hands employed by the Office of Treaty Settlements and had requested police assistance – broadcaster upheld complaint that item was inaccurate – apologised to complainant and offered on-air apology and correction – complainant dissatisfied with the offer

Action taken – sufficient – broadcaster nevertheless encouraged to carry out the action it had undertaken – not upheld

This headnote does not form part of the decision.


[1]    An ongoing dispute about ownership of the farm block, Te Aukiwa Farm (Stoney Creek Station) 12km south of Mangonui, was dealt with on an item on Te Karere, broadcast on TV One at 4.45pm on 15 September 2006, and repeated at 6.10am on 16 September.  The item reported that Te Aukiwa Farm shareholders had started to evict the farm hands employed by the Office of Treaty Settlements.  It was also reported that the shareholders had requested police assistance.


[2]    On behalf of the Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board, Ella Henry complained to Television New Zealand Ltd, the broadcaster, that the item was “patently untrue”.

[3]    Ms Henry explained that the group referred to as “the shareholders” were a group of protestors from the Ngati Aukiwa hapu who had illegally occupied the farm that had been land-banked in order to be returned to the trust board as part of Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa’s Treaty settlement.  The “shareholders”, she said, were removed by the police after “terrorising the Farm Manager and his family”. 

[4]    Ms Henry stated that the Ngati Aukiwa hapu was part of the Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa iwi, but the protestors did not represent the entire hapu.  She said that the Te Karere reporter responsible for the item was aware of this information in view of interviews he had conducted both at the time and for an earlier item.  The trust board, she added, had also complained about the earlier item.

[5]    Elaborating on the earlier complaint, Ms Henry said that TVNZ had upheld a complaint that items about the same issue (the dispute about the ownership of Te Aukiwa farm) broadcast on Te Karere on 19 and 20 January 2006 were unbalanced and unfair.  TVNZ had apologised and had asked the board to contact the editor of Te Karere to arrange further coverage of the ongoing event which might provide balance.

[6]    The complaint included comments from the member of the board who had been asked at that time to deal with Te Karere.  She recounted her dealings and said a Te Karere staff member, who contacted her, was rude and unhelpful in response to her efforts to speak to a reporter other than the one who presented the items complained about.

[7]    Describing the current item from the same reporter as “indicating a clear bias on behalf of a group that has consistently flouted the law”, Ms Henry demanded a meeting with the reporter and TVNZ senior management, an apology to the board from the reporter, and the broadcast in Māori and English of a statement correcting, and apologising for, both the previous and current items.


[8]    TVNZ assessed the complaint under Standard 5 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice which reads:

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.

Broadcaster's Response to the Complainant

[9]    Acknowledging that the description in the item of the situation regarding lands in the Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa tribal area was not accurate, TVNZ upheld the complaint as a breach of Standard 5.

[10]    TVNZ apologised to Ms Henry and the trust board and requested that the board contact the editor of Te Karere.  It wrote:

Te Karere stands ready to broadcast an on-air apology and correction on a date convenient to you.

Referral to the Authority

[11]    Dissatisfied with the extent of TVNZ’s offer, Ms Henry on behalf of the trust board referred the matter to the Broadcasting Standards Authority under s.8(1)(a) of the Broadcasting Act 1989.  Referring to both the present and past complaints and the earlier unsatisfactory response, Ms Henry complained that TVNZ’s offer did not meet the board’s request outlined in para [7] above.

Broadcaster’s Response to the Authority

[12]    TVNZ reiterated that it had apologised both to Ms Henry and the trust board.  It noted that Ms Henry had not yet taken up the invitation to contact the editor of Te Karere, adding that Te Karere “stands ready to meet that obligation”.

Authority's Determination

[13]    The members of the Authority have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix, which includes a translation of the item complained about.  The Authority determines the complaint without a formal hearing.

[14]    The complainant was dissatisfied with the action offered by TVNZ, citing its experience with Te Karere after a previous complaint about the same issue had been upheld.  The member of Ngati Kahu ki Whangaroa Trust Board who had been assigned on that occasion to deal with Te Karere had been unable to arrange the broadcast of a balancing item in view of what she described as its “very rude and unhelpful” attitude.  Consequently, on this occasion, the trust board sought the Authority’s assistance to arrange a number of matters including a meeting between the board, the reporter and TVNZ’s senior management.

[15]    The Authority cannot make the orders sought.  Section 13(1) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 sets outs its powers when dealing with a complaint alleging that the action taken by a broadcaster after upholding a complaint was insufficient.  In the current situation, in essence, section 13 would allow the Authority to order the broadcast of an on-air correction and apology.

[16]    As this is what TVNZ has offered, and as the Authority considers that this is appropriate in the circumstances of the complaint, it declines to uphold the trust board’s complaint.

[17]    Nevertheless, the Authority encourages TVNZ to resolve the apparent conflict between Te Karere and the trust board, and to ensure that the action it has undertaken on this occasion is carried out.


For the above reasons the Authority declines to uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority


Joanne Morris
22 February 2007


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

1             Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board’s complaint to Television New Zealand Ltd (plus
              attachments) – 10 October 2006
2            TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 2 November 2006
3            Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board’s response to Television New Zealand Ltd –
              20 November 2006
4            Ngati Kahu Ki Whangaroa Trust Board’s referral to the Broadcasting Standards Authority –
              25 November 2006
5            TVNZ’s response to the Authority – 12 December 2006