Radio NZ pulls the plug on Waatea but we can tune in elsewhere for our special view of the world

Alf will miss the Waatea News bulletins from Radio New Zealand.

They are being scrapped – along with a couple of grand pianos – as part of the state broadcaster’s desperate efforts to operate within its budget.

But Waatea News is not being shut down and silenced as a consequence of this move.

Those of us whose ethnocentricity compels us to distinguish Maori science from science, Maori sport from sport, and Maori news from news can plug into Maori radio stations for our news fix.

We can also simply visit the Waatea website.

This will be important for Alf, to polish the deep cultural understanding he gets from listening to Waatea news bulletins.

That service has taught him there are always two sides to a story. Who would have believed it?

For example, it quoted Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia as saying Tai Tokerau MP Hone Harawira’s mother and sister put on the worst display she has ever seen on a marae

Titewhai and Hinewhare Harawira kept up a barrage of interjections and insults as the full Maori Party caucus met with about 50 party members and Tai Tokerau elders at Waitangi yesterday to discuss rebuilding the party’s infrastructure in the north.

Mrs Turia says it was distressing for many of those at the Hui, both old and young.

“When you come from whanau, hapu and iwi where kaupapa and tikanga are incredibly important, it does throw you when you see that sort of behaviour and I was very disappointed because there was no need to try to disrupt the hui. I mean if you believe in your kaupapa, if you believe in what you are doing, you don’t need to try to disrupt someone else’s,” she says.

This reinforced Alf’s Pakeha view that something very disagreeable had happened at the hui and the Harawira harpies had behaved badly.

But nah.

He later learned that a Maori Party supporter was saying the hui at Waitangi wasn’t as bad as is being made out.

Those at the hui were subjected to four hours of interjections and abuse by members of MP Hone Harawira’s family.

But Tihi Puanaki of Ngapuhi says there were issues that needed to be put forward, which is what happens on marae.

“It actually was a lovely hui, i te mutunga, and for those of us who had been in those sort of arenas, kei te pai te raru, kei te pai te tau tuhituhi. Debate and that is ok, it’s just working strategies to get through and not hate each other in the end,” she says.

Four hours of interjections and abuse? A lovely hui?

Alf obviously is still struggling to get to grips with Maori culture, although it needs saying that four hours in the debating chamber at parliament can be a bit like that.

But the point is that we can all tap into bulletins of that sort on the Waatea website if we can’t tune in to a Maori radio station (and there are dozens of the buggers, feeding off the taxpayer).

But broadcaster Willie Jackson today is blasting Radio NZ as “pakeha radio” after it canned the seven-year-old contract for Maori news.

The Herald says Jackson’s company provides four Waatea News bulletins each week day.

We learn that Willie understands RNZ is going though tough times,

“…but I’m disappointed they have shut the door on attempts to offer it for free for 12 to 18 months till they have got over financial problems.

“National Radio has 6 per cent Maori content, but when they make cuts the first place they turn is Maori.

But Willie knows full well there is no such thing as a free lunch, or a free news service.

The money will come from somewhere else, and Maori have plenty of troughs to turn to when they need a bit of dosh.

Willie recognises this.

“The contract is worth a measly $280,000.

“We asked for time to negotiate, and I was confident we could find the money from [Maori broadcasting funding agency] Te Mangai Paho.

So the taxpayer would have gained nothing from the savings being made at Radio New Zealand.

Willie has a genuine complaint, however, when he says he got no reply from Radio NZ to his offer.

A bit rude?

No, rood.

Radio New Zealand head of news Don Rood said the organisation would be taking its Maori news in-house, and no other ethnic group’s news was outsourced.

RNZ saw its approach as ensuring its independence, he said.

“Willie and Waatea have provided us a good service, and we intend to improve it,” he said.

Asked why Radio New Zealand had not responded to Jackson’s offer to seek money through Te Mangai Paho, he said RNZ regarded the government Maori broadcasting agency as “an outside source” and it was not an option.

Willie puts things in an interesting perspective when he says Radio NZ is getting $38 million “but they can’t afford $280,000 to get an insight into a Maori world.”

Mind you, RNZ also is selling those grand pianos and saving $200,000 by scrapping fees paid to orchestras to broadcast concerts.

Dunno if you can easily plug into the web for a concert you missed.

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