Bias is prejudice for or against one person or group, especially in a way considered to be unfair. Maori TV showed anti-white bias as it launched an attack on jailed Northland farmer Allan Titford and supporters on Monday night, failing to treat the subject fairly and accurately as required.
What lies beneath revisited the Te Roroa claim at Maunganui Bluff north of Dargaville, Titford’s battle with claimants, his conviction for allegedly burning his home, and included interviews with claimant Alex Nathan, Maori rights academic Ranginui Walker, activist/unionist Justin Taua, treatyism critic John Ansell, pre-Maori New Zealand researcher Martin Doutre, treatyist academic Paul Moon, and old footage of former MPs Muriel Newman and Ross Meurant.
Reporter Iulia Leilua’s 20-minute two-part feature could leave an open-minded viewer thinking that Titford was finally exposed as evil, that Te Roroa claimants were wronged innocents, and that there exists a shadowy but well-funded very right wing conspiracy out to deny Maori of rights.
Featured high in the clip were the comments of former Titford supporter Bill Guest of Federated Farmers who said he was shocked to find about the arson conviction. His “confession” that he was “guilty” of throwing “a fair bit of abuse at Te Roroa and those causing trouble” implied that any other former Titford supporter should also recant and apologise to Te Roroa.
But presenter Mihingarangi Forbes’ assertion in the intro that “14 years later the truth came out - it was Allan Titford who burnt his house down” was incorrect. In fact Titford was found guilty of burning his house, an allegation he continues to deny, and a conviction he plans to appeal or seek a retrial on.
Moreover, viewers were not made aware of the existence of two sworn statements that cast reasonable doubt on Titford’s guilt regarding the arson. Reporter Leilua was given copies of these affidavits and had all details explained to her but there was no reference to this in the final edit. These affidavits existed at the time of Titford’s trial but were not introduced as evidence.
Ansell recorded footage of the actual interviews (see http://treatygate.wordpress.com/2014/05/13/what-maori-tv-didnt-show-you/#comments) because earlier biased treatment at the hands of Maori TV prompted him to take a cameraman along, something that reporter Leilua strenuously objected to.
Bias appeared in the number and frequency of comments for either Titford or Te Roroa.
For Titford, Ansell was the sole representative and featured in a single, highly selective interview. Doutre, who has supported Titford elsewhere, spoke entirely about evidence for Celtic New Zealand. Former MP Ross Meurant spoke for Titford in old footage. Newman’s single comment was neither about Titford nor Te Roroa.
For Te Roroa, claimant Alex Nathan spoke six times, Taua spoke four times, Ranginui Walker spoke twice, and Moon spoke once.
Reporter Leilua showed her sympathies in referring to Doutre as “Martin” but Ansell simply by surname only. Pro-Te Roroa statements in this item were taken at face value with no sign that Leilua checked for accuracy.
Nathan: We knew we were right, that it was not a fraud, and just carried on regardless.The rights and wrongs of the Te Roroa claim/settlement remain in question. In fact, the land owned by Titford that Te Roroa supporters occupied had already gone through a number of inquiries before the Titford farm occupation. A claim for that land, known as Manuwhetai, and another area on a neighbouring farm known as Whangaiariki, first appeared in 1899 after all vendors involved in the 1876 sale had died, and the claim was rejected at that time.
A special sitting of the Native Land Court on the matter was held in Kaihu in 1939, and a recommendation by Chief Judge G.P. Shepherd to parliament 1942, held that:
The only reserve provided in the 1876 sale was a 250-acre eel fishery reserve known as Taharoa for vendor Parore Te Awha;Titford had the title investigated before he bought the place in 1986 and investigated again when his land was occupied. He had no interest in treaty claim matters until a group of bullying hostile protesters occupied his land and wrecked his business. In “settling” the Te Roroa claim, officials ignored the extensive work that had already been done on the matter and blundered into an agreement that created a further grievance.
Manuwhetai and Whangaiariki were not mentioned in the deed of sale;
Neither were they mentioned in the inquiry into the sale held in 1876;
The sale deed had a certificate to show that vendors Parore Te Awha and Tiopira Kinaki understood the terms of the sale;
The deed had a certificate to show no fraud had taken place;
A memo dated February 12, 1876, confirmed that Parore got Taharoa.
Walker: Because he (Titford) kicked up such a fuss and there was such a fuss in the press, all the pakehas in New Zealand because of that pro-press were lined up with Titford and politically the government had no option to buy all of Titford’s land. It actually cost more. It was a mistake on the government’s part. It should have just ruled that this land was stolen and put in your title. It should be taken out of your title and we will compensate you for that. But instead Titford managed to make a huge profit out of the government of $3-million for his land.The part of the Titford farm that Te Roroa occupied and subsequently acquired was never stolen. Parore Te Awha and Tiopira Kinaki sold it in 1876 as shown above. I’ve seen a photo of the deed of sale and can confirm that the only reserve was the 250-acre reserve known as Taharoa. In 1952, L.W. Parore and others sold that Taharoa reserve to the government for ₤250.
A plan used by the Te Roroa claimants as “proof” that Manuwhetai and Whangaiariki had been taken in error by the Crown, Plan 3297/8, was created by surveyors Barnard and Stephens for a landowner named Wi Pou of the Ngaitu hapu as part of a proposal to buy two reserves on the south side of Maunganui Bluff from the Crown. Those reserves were to be named Manuwhetai and Whangaiariki. Plan 3297/8 remained in government files as a record of a proposal that did not proceed.
Far from “a huge profit” that Walker alleges, Titford came out $400,000 behind after working nine years for nothing and facing bullying from claimants, inaction by police, and stonewalling by the government.
Titford signed away his farm including stock and plant for $3.225-million. A total of $1.8-million went to the National Bank and $425,000.to other creditors. The 1450 head of stock included in the sale were valued at $750,000 and plant at $50,000. If $800,000 for stock and plant was deducted from the $1-million that remained after the bank and creditors took their money, Titford was left with $200,000 for land he paid $600,000 nine years earlier.
Moon: People said “let’s not give them the oxygen of attention. If we ignore them they will go away”. That has to change because more and more people are taking them seriously. Their views are being spread very effectively through the internet and they’re appealing to ever larger audiences. There’s a risk that some of these very strange ideas are becoming mainstream.Here we have an academic employed by a New Zealand university, supposedly a bastion of freedom of thought, saying that there should be a crackdown on people with views that differ from his.
Taua: It isn’t a small group of loose individuals making up stories. It’s actually a concerted effort that is being backed up by a lot of resources.In fact the reverse is true. Claimants have become wealthy and have the resources to push grievances and demand political power and on-going share of resources. More than 65 groups have received a total of $2.3-billion and these groups have the resources for legal action.
A bigger threat to these favoured few is widespread grassroots opposition to bullying opportunism by claimant groups as was shown in submissions to the government’s Constitutional Advisory Panel. Actual feedback that differed from the panel’s report and was obtained under the Official Information Act showed that 78.84 percent of respondents opposed Maori seats in parliament, 70.55 percent thought there should be no separate representation local government, and 62.82 percent thought the Treaty of Waitangi should have no future role within New Zealand’s constitutional arrangements.
What lies beneath, a lop-sided feature created by a government-funded race-based television station that implied pervasive, nasty, anti-Maori racism, and included a series of poorly founded and one-sided comments, was aired at a time when serious questions are being asked about bias in the New Zealand news media. Although Maori TV is commissioned to deliver a Maori perspective, it still is obliged to treat issues fairly and accurately. There was little fairness and accuracy in this item.
What lies beneath Part 1 http://www.maoritelevision.com/news/national/native-affairs-what-lies-beneath-part-1
What lies beneath Part 2 https://www.maoritelevision.com/news/national/native-affairs-what-lies-beneath-part-2