ALISTAIR GOODWIN AGAINST RNZ

Case Number: 3290

Council Meeting: JULY 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Radio NZ

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Headlines and Captions

Ruling Categories: Damaging To Reputation
Defamation/Damaging To Reputation
Deception
Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori

Overview

RNZ published a story on its website on 27 April 2022 headed Women who insulted moko kauae told to apologise. The story covered an incident where two women at a playground asked another woman to cover her tā moko with a mask or leave because she was “scaring the children”. The mother with the moko kauae was quoted as saying she felt “hurt and rage”, and that she would like to meet the other women to educate them about the mana and history behind moko kauae. “An apology would be great and lovely, but yeah, I’m not holding my breath,” she said. 

Alistair Goodwin complained about the headline, saying that he could not find any evidence that the women had been “told to apologise” or that the women had insulted the moko kauae. The women had stated it was frightening their children, but he questioned whether that was an insult.

RNZ replied, saying they had reported the fact that the woman had clearly felt insulted by the remarks and noted that she said she “never thought the race card would be slapped on her”.

The Council has no concerns about the use of the word “insulted” in the headline. The mother felt insulted and it was quite reasonable of her to feel this way, given the nature of the comments about her moko kauae, which could be seen as racist. However the Council believes the headline was not completely apt. The woman’s statement,  “An apology would be great and lovely,” indicates that she wanted an apology, which is slightly different to telling someone to apologise. A headline that read Women who insulted moko kauae asked to apologise would have been more strictly correct, but the Council does not believe this nuance is sufficient to breach any principles.


Decision: There are insufficient grounds to proceed.

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