“…actively promote the principles of Partnership, Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging Māori as a Te Tiriti partner.”
The mainstream media reacted with shock, horror and indignation at the claim made by the Deputy Prime Minister that the Ardern–Hipkins regimes had financed the media to get them to support government policies. … you can’t defend $55 million of bribery. Chris Hipkins strenuously denied the accusation when interviewed on Radio New Zealand on Wednesday 29 November.
However, Winston Peters is quite right. To get the money to keep their papers and magazines going, the owners and editors had to agree to the PIJF Guidelines which included a Treaty related clause which is set out above. That clause contains at least two errors – there were no principles or reference to partnership in the 1840 Te Tiriti o Waitangi.
Among many guidelines and goals the media was directed to –
- reflect and develop New Zealand identity and culture
- promote Maori language and culture
- support the production of PIJ that is relevant and valued by New Zealanders
- engage citizens in informed public debate.
Imagine how newspapers like The Australian, The Guardian and The Washington Post would react to being told by their government how to report on the nation and the world around them.
Reflecting the Ardern government’s wishes
The New Zealand press and magazines dutifully obliged from mid-2020 to get the cash they needed. Consequently the journalists wrote articles and editorials, and the cartoonists did their part, to show the Labour-led government in a good light. There was:
- support for the government’s covid policies, ‘vaccine’ choice and ‘vaccine’ mandates
- support for He Puapua strategies
- no open criticism of Jacinda Ardern, the Waitangi Tribunal or the Maori Caucus
- little coverage on countries which didn’t follow New Zealand’s approach to covid and no balanced analysis of the effectiveness and casualties of vaccines and boosters
- no analysis of the dishonesty of the politicians
- no investigation into the Health Department’s advice to the government
- no meaningful discussion of the opposition to the government’s lockdowns
- support for Labour’s interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi.
When an article appeared which included an apocryphal account of a massacre at Rangiaowhia in 1864, based on the opinions of local iwi, Maori oral history and the views of PC historians such as Vincent O’Malley, historian, Bruce Moon and I wrote letters to the paper complaining. They did not publish them, however we each received a reply from the Maori Affairs reporter. When I asked if I could respond with a full article, she said to send one through, but The Stuffers decided not to print it.
These were times for following the official line and supporting Jacinda Ardern, who claimed her government was the sole source of truth during covid times.
Coming to a close
Funding under the PIJF came to an end in mid-2023 but the media continued to toe the party line. There were also rumours that Broadcasting Minister, Willie Jackson, was meeting with journalists to provide “advice”.
Hopefully Christopher Luxon’s government will terminate the PIJF requirements and we can have full freedom of speech and a truly independent fourth estate.
Roger Childs is a retired teacher who taught History, Social Studies and Geography for 40 years. This article was first published HERE