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Tuesday, 27 June 2017 04:30 pm

In search of the Maori journalist in Aotearoa New Zealand

Jun 6th, 2017 | By | Category: Featured Article, News


The number of Maori people working the journalism industry has slowly increased over the last few years however, the workforce is still predominately Pakeha.

Maori people make up 15 percent of New Zealand’s population but make up only seven to eight percent of mainstream newsrooms.

Former journalist and student, Julie Middleton is studying a PHD in Tikanga Maori and its influence on the media.

She says there aren’t exact numbers for how many Maori people work in mainstream newsrooms but it is obvious they’re underrepresented.

“If you are a news consumer you will have noticed that there are very few Maori in mainstream media,” she says.

Julie says one of the reasons there are so few Maori in newsrooms is because of how the media has treated Maori people.

“For a long time the mainstream media portrayed Maori people in a very negative light unless of course, they were sports stars or All Blacks, and I have to say why would you want to work for a media you perceive as racist and unsympathetic,” she says.

Radio New Zealand Journalist, Mihingarangi Forbes says her initial time in a mainstream newsroom was very intimidating.

“My first experience was quite daunting, even as a fair skin Maori I often felt isolated and different in a negative way,” she says.

She says one of the reasons there are so few Maori journalist in mainstream newsrooms is because they are in high demand.

“Often my friends who have been journalists, who have a good command of Te Reo, are scooped up by PR Companies or Iwi corporates because they are so valuable,” She says.

Mihingarangi says Maori people need to see themselves in positions of power to be comfortable working in mainstream newsrooms in the future.

Shannon Haunui-Thompson also works at Radio New Zealand.

She says she has spent the majority of her career in mainstream newsrooms and has mainly had good experiences.

Shannon says she never felt pushed into having a Maori round.

“I was just a journalist and was expected to work on all kinds of stories, there were a few instances where they asked me to help reporters on a few stories because I was Maori,” she says.

She says there are negatives and positives to Maori people being given the Maori round.

“It’s a great way of building contacts… so it definitely has its benefits of being able to tell good Maori stories, it can be harmful if the person doesn’t really understand their round and understand how Taha Maori works,” she says.

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