November 14, 2023
Merepeka Raukawa Tait: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story.
Merepeka Raukawa Tait: Never let the facts get in the way of a good story. Only it wasn’t a good story. It was a bad story, incorrect and sadly released firstly by Māori TV . They should have known better. What were they thinking, if thinking at all?
Last Wednesday Māori TV News told the nation that having an election 2023 polling booth situated at Manurewa Marae was somehow complicit, assisted even, in getting the Māori Party candidate Takutai Tarsh Kemp elected as the successful candidate in the seat of Tāmaki Makaurau. Other media quickly got into the fray. I know Takutai, she serves on the board of Whānau Ora that I have chaired for the past 10 years. She is an experienced administrator, highly skilled CEO and competent in governance matters. I don’t believe Takutai would condone behaviour, or behave herself in a manner that would diminish mana; hers, that of the Māori Party or of her beloved Manurewa Marae.
I think it was a story designed to cast a shadow over her election result and the success of the Māori Party. Taking 6 out of the 7 Māori electorate seats was a stunning victory. For years the Electoral Commission has known Māori have low voter turnout. If the Commission wants to site polling booths on Marae, Takutai is the CEO of Manurewa Marae, particularly those that are busy and used daily for all manner of whānau and community activities, then I say “kia ora ” to them. If polling booths on Marae, encourage greater Māori voter turnout, then surely this is to be applauded not to be looked on with suspicion. I hope the use of Marae will increase even more in the years to come.
But should we really be surprised that a pot shot was taken to diminish the party’s success and Takutai’s achievement. Only because it was Māori TV that decided to lead out the story without checking facts. That there must be an element of truth to be found somewhere. They were prepared to play a starring role in unearthing deception.
I have always seen Māori TV as having real purpose in supporting the progress and aspirations of Māori. They are us and we are them. We know they must hold themselves to the highest of journalistic standards when researching and presenting news stories. I value that they see the world through a Māori lens and present our stories respectfully when entrusted to them. There is no need to go low on stories that promote Māori achievement. Mainstream media do this well enough, without Māori TV putting the boot in. Apart from the fact that the story was baseless and factually incorrect, John Tamihere President of the Māori Party was quick to release a comprehensive rebuttal, to me it highlights a vein of thinking that doesn’t belong in Māori TV.
By all means follow stories that are news worthy, without fear or favour. But don’t invent and spread baseless aspersions of a successful candidate who did what was unthinkable, beat the odds. I know the effort that went into winning the 6 Māori electorate seats, I stood as a Māori Party candidate in a general seat. The 6 seats were won fairly and squarely by candidates committed to enhancing the lives of all whānau Māori. Speaking up at every opportunity to encourage Maāri to reach their potential. These candidates went high. Māori heard and voted in droves.
It was Māori TV whose mana that was dented last week. They may want to consider now if it was worth it and at what cost.
Radio Waatea and its board would like to advise that the opinions expressed in this article are those of Merepeka Raukawa Tait and not necessarily the views of Radio Waatea, its Management or its Board.