February 03, 2013
Wilcox’s work a real winner
Opinion: It's no surprise that the cameras and microphones have been hovering around Paul Holmes in recent weeks.
His knighthood, his seriously failing health and his gutsy, sometimes moving TV interviews have combined to propel him once again into the limelight – and have prompted commentators to try sizing up his contribution to New Zealand broadcasting.
Nobody in our time has delivered such a mixture of on-air and on-screen talent, cheek and energy.
So it's been fair enough for him to have so much attention.
But there's another richly talented media personality who deserves our attention now as well.
He's Julian Wilcox who, along with his Native Affairs team on the Maori Television Service, has been in award-winning form over the last couple of years.
Sadly, big numbers of Kiwis aren't familiar with his work because Maori Television doesn't attract the following that mainstream telly does.
But those who have watched his programme will know what a formidable talent he has as a presenter and interviewer.
He starts with the dual advantage of being (a) nearly as good-looking as me and John Tamihere and (b) having a good sense of humour.
Add to that a sharp mind, quick wit, courtesy and an easy fluency in both reo Pakeha and reo Maori.
You could say that he's pretty well the complete package – a sort of Sonny Bill of Kiwi broadcasting.
That's the good news.
The bad news is that he's now stepping down – or possibly up – from that Native Affairs role. He's opting for a new role within Maori Televison as the boss of the channel's news and current affairs.
Possibly, that's a wise decision. His abilities as a manager, leader and mentor are still largely untested but you'd suspect that he's got the brains, experience, charm and commitment to make a fair fist of the job.
And if he excels there's scope for him, in due course, to make it right to the top of the organisation and wield some significant influence there.
But he leaves a gap that will be hard to fill on Native Affairs.
And worse, the channel misses a great opportunity to work out a deal with TV One or TV3, whereby Julian could be on screen there and reaching a far wider audience than he's been able to do over the last decade through Maori Televison and Radio Waatea.
The Kiwi public deserves a much more professional presentation of Maori stories and issues than the mainstream broadcasters have served up through the years.
At times, they have delivered but mostly they've been letting themselves down and short-changing their audiences too.
Maybe they haven't recognised it but they've had a huge problem – and Julian could have been one of the answers.
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