It’s hard to say which is the more bothersome. A photograph on the Stuff web-site of Prime Minister John Key being challenged as he walks on to Te Tii marae with – good grief – Titewhai Harawira.
Or the report beneath the photograph telling us that Waitangi lower marae officials have demanded a $500 fee before they will allow the media to enter the ground to cover the PM’s visit.
No, it’s not the image of Ma Harawira that Alf finds bothersome. It’s the image of the Maori gentleman doing the challenging. He’s almost starkers.
Mrs Grumble reckons this bloke has an admirable bum. Dunno about admirable. But you can certainly see all of it.
If he kitted out like that for the Sevens in Wellington, he would be arrested. The security people would regard him as a streaker waiting for his chance to dash on to the pitch.
Maybe the poor bugger can’t afford decent clobber, but surely there are Salvation Army shops in that neck of the woods where you can go to buy a cheap set of threads.
And where was the squad of special cops who are supposed to be protecting the PM? How come they allowed John Key get so close to a club-wielding bloke in the all-together?
In a similar situation in Wellington, as Alf understands it, the cops yesterday dealt with a knife-wielding bloke by zapping him with one of those tasers. The bloke with the club should have been similarly zapped.
Having spluttered his objections at a photograph of naked flesh, Alf proceeded to read the report beneath about the fee being demanded by Te Tii Marae, across a river from the main Waitangi Treaty Grounds.
Te Tii marae media liaison officer Hama Apiata told Fairfax Media, publisher of Stuff.co.nz, and several other news organisations they would not be allowed onto the marae grounds if they did not pay a $500 fee this morning.
He said other media “had come to the party and paid the fee”.
Fairfax understands television stations were emailed last week advising them to pay $1000 to reserve places at the marae for their cameras.
Maori TV and TVNZ are understood to each have paid a $1000 fee.
TV3 are understood to have rejected the fee demand but after negotiation paid a koha – or gift – of $500.
Prime TV were understood to still be negotiating this morning.
Other media organisations were asked for payments when they arrived this morning.
Fairfax Media was warned that if it entered the grounds without paying the fee its cameras would be confiscated by Maori wardens.
“At this stage there is no way you are going on there,” said Mr Apiata.
In other words, Fairfax has had to pay for the right to take a picture of a naked Maori bloke challenging the Prime Minister – and for other pictures of the occasion.
After negotiation Fairfax gave a koha of $20 as part of marae protocol, but did not pay a fee.
The New Zealand Herald confirmed it had also paid a koha, not a fee.
It is understood other media paid similar amounts from $20 to $40.
TVNZ spokeswoman Andi Brotherston confirmed TVNZ had paid a requested $1000 fee to book an area to park its Live Eye truck and satellite gear.
The marae committee required this fee to secure the area because of space constraints. It was a regular fee charged by the marae and TVNZ had paid it in previous years.
Alf goes along with Media Freedom Committee secretary and NZPA chief executive Tim Pankhurst, who said the demand for a fee came close to extortion.
“Its not acceptable. This is an important national public event.”
“We understand the notion of koha but there then needs to be a debate on that, and news organisations contacted beforehand, rather than reporters being buttonholed and threatened on the day.
“They are reporting the prime minister on the eve of the day that we celebrate the founding of our country and national reconciliation. I think they should consider the context.
“There are plenty of other examples where the media go onto private property to report events where there is no question of them paying for that. Access for the media as the representatives of the public is a very important principle.”
Alf finds it bloody ominous.
It’s a pointer to what would happen if and when Maori were granted ownership of the seabed and foreshore.