It has been fascinating witnessing the indignant outrage of the MSM media to the Deputy Prime Minister's comments condemning those media organisations that applied for and received the government PIJF hand out.
Surprising to me was Mike Hosking’s rant which descended
into an ad hominem attack on Winston Peters.
When one sees such a vitriolic and defensive reaction one wonders why the allegedly objective media has reacted so badly.
I took Hosking’s
advice and did some research.
I started with the “Public Interest Journalism Fund: General
Guidelines” dated 17 March 2022.
Section 3 sets out the, “Goals of the Public Interest
The first part of the
section sets out five things that must be achieved.
The first two are innocuous enough they refer to informing
and engaging the public about issues
that affect a person’s right to flourish within our society and impact on
society’s ability to fully support its citizens and to provide accurate,
accountable, and fair coverage that reflects and empowers all sectors of the community
upholding the public’s right to know.
The fourth and fifth
are in a similar vein requiring that the media must reflect the cultural
diversity of New Zealand and to encourage a robust and sustainable media
The third mandatory requirement though is, in my view,
It states, “Actively promote the principles of partnership,
Participation and Active Protection under Te Tiriti o Waitangi acknowledging
Maori as a Te Tiriti partner.”
That prescription of the Treaty principles is presented as
the authoritative, no debate to be entered into.
And that was (is) how the recipients of the PIJF have
approached the reporting of Treaty issues.
The PIJF was administered and funded through NZ On Air.
At the same time, 22 March 2022 New Zealand on Air Commissioned and
published the TE TIRITI FRAMEWORK FOR NEWS MEDIA document authored by Jenny
Rankin, Angela Moewaka Barnes, Belinda Borell, Tim Mc Creanor & Raymond
The document is 29 pages long.
It starts with the statement that, “Mass news media
organisations need to consider, explore, build
on and implement the framework in ways that show commitment to te Tiriti
One cannot understand the significance of the third mandatory
condition for eligibility for funding under the PIJF without having an
understanding of the directives emanating from the Framework document. The
third mandatory requirement takes its meaning from the Framework which starts
by setting out the rationale for its expressed view which is to be adopted by
the recipients of the PIJF money.
It starts thus, “As tangata whenua o Aotearoa , Maori have
never ceded sovereignty to Britain or any other state. He Whakaputanga
/Declaration of Independence (1835) and te Tiriti 0 Waitangi (1840) asserted
and continue to assert Maori sovereignty, and were signed by hapu and the
Crown. Te Tiriti carries rights and obligations for both parties, with implications
for social justice. Despite te Tiriti, colonial constitutional practices have
entrenched Pakeha systems of governance that continue today. This means our
society has a foundation of institutional racism, where organisations, agencies
and institutions continue to benefit Pakeha, and routinely produce policies and
practices that result in avoidable inequalities between Pakeha and Maori.
“As a social institution, news media play a major role. News
is much more than some truth out there waiting to be reported; news
organisations often choose what counts as news and construct news through their
cultural lenses of representation and silences…
“News Media organisations have an obligation to be
accountable and responsible in the ways they represent Maori and decide what is
newsworthy, as well as how they organise their own structures and processes to
align with Te Tiriti Waitangi.
To me this all smacks of the implementation of an ideology
which has been sold by the promoters of a singular view of New Zealand’s
history and swallowed hook line and sinker without demur by the recipient media
organisations when accepting the PIJF funds.
The fact of the matter is that there are contrary views on
this matter which should have been and now will be debated by our society no
thanks to the fourth estate which has been derelict in its function to
question, to be curious and to encourage debate on such fundamental issues.
The MSM media seem to have been seduced by the proponents of
Critical Race Theory where the dialectic of oppressed (Maori) and oppressor
(the rest) have supplanted the proletariat and the bourgeoisie of Marxism.
Let me finish with a quote from our former Prime Minister
David Lange when he delivered the Bruce Jesson Memorial Lecture in November
“Democratic government can accommodate Maori political
aspiration in many ways. It can allocate resources in ways which reflect the
particular interests of Maori people. It can delegate authority, and allow the
exercise of degrees of Maori autonomy. What it cannot do is acknowledge the
existence of separate sovereignty. As soon as it does that, it isn’t democracy.
We can have a democratic form of government or we can have indigenous
sovereignty. They can’t coexist and we can’t have them both.”
He also said, “The Treaty cannot be any kind of founding
document, as it is sometimes said to be. It does not resolve the question of
sovereignty, if only because one version of it claims one form of sovereignty
and the other version claims the opposite. The court of appeal once, absurdly,
described it as a partnership between races, but it obviously is not. The
signatories are, on one side, a distinctive group of people, and on the other,
a government which established itself in New Zealand and whose successors
represent all of us, whether we are descendants of the signatories or not. The
Treaty cannot even resolve the argument among Maori themselves in which one
side maintains that you’re a Maori if you identify as such, and the other
claims that it’s your links to traditional forms of association which define
you as Maori.”
It won’t be lost on you that the News Media Framework which
underpinned the conditions of the PIJF is founded on the false premise that,
“Maori never ceded sovereignty”.
The MSM took the money and accepted that condition.
It’s no wonder that
the population at large has lost trust and confidence in the MSM.
Graeme Reeves is a lawyer and former National MP.