But Native Affairs didn’t please everyone. The young – many of whom were female – journalists had the temerity to challenge the behaviour of the older – many of whom were male members of the Maori establishment. The message from some disgruntled elders to the stroppy wahine toa of Native Affairs seemed to be loud and clear: ‘you be quiet – girlie!’
So were the Native Affairs investigations examples of Maori bashing? I don’t think so when those doing the investigations were Maori themselves. I suspect that’s why the investigations were so effective.
However since the MTV board appointed Paora Maxwell as CEO things have changed. Maxwell’s appointment was controversial – and a petition against it was apparently signed by many MTV staff. A board member resigned over the selection process but eventually – under the chairpersonship of ex-National Party Minister Georgina Te Heuheu – Maxwell was appointed.
Soon after Maxwell arrived an item at a kapa haka festival critical of MTV was edited out of a highlights package. The departure of respected journalists including Carol Hirschfeld – has occurred over the last year. Then late last month a Native Affairs debate on the Whanau Ora scheme was canned. Presenter Mihingarangi Forbes left Native Affairs soon after management delayed a scheduled follow-up of the Kohanga Reo National Trust story – and just last Thursday highly regarded producer Annabelle Lee also departed.
Since Mr Maxwell was asked to steer the MTV waka it seems that quite a number of experienced journalists have jumped ship.
Coincidentally the Whanau Ora programme cancellation happened less than two hours after Maori Affairs minister Te Ururoa Flavell met with Maxwell.
Forbes resignation came as a shock to many at Maori Television today but was the result of long-running tensions between the news team at Native Affairs and chief executive Paora Maxwell – appointed after a tumultuous process.
Forbes was unavailable for comment but confirmed the resignation on Twitter – saying: ‘I’ve resigned. Thank you those who shared stories’.
The Herald has been told Forbes’ resignation came after the Native Affairs team were told they were not to run a story on Te Kohanga Reo National Trust, planned for Monday.
It was a return to the current affairs show’s most controversial stories for which it had won praise and criticism.