DAMON MATHER AGAINST NZ HERALD

Case Number: 3337

Council Meeting: NOVEMBER 2022

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Comment and Fact
Columns, Blogs, Opinion and Letters
Headlines and Captions
Discrimination and Diversity
Subterfuge
Conflicts of Interest

Ruling Categories: Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori

Overview

The New Zealand Herald published an article on September 13, 2022, headlined Rowena Duncum: Māori Language Week brings out the trolls. It was a commentary in which the author despaired at how intolerant some people still are about Te Reo Māori.

Damon Mather complained the article was written to attack certain people who disagree with the racism being shown by this Labour Government and attack anybody who believes they are being forced to learn Māori. The column was a childish way to address people with differing opinions and was causing hatred and discomfort.

He said the author’s opinion held no water and was taking a swipe at the English language and anybody who wanted to uphold it.

NZ Herald Editor Murray Kirkness said Mr Mather’s disagreement with the article was not suitable grounds for complaint.

“It was clearly labelled as opinion and, as the Media Council has routinely ruled, readers do not have the right to not be offended by an opinion article. No one is forcing you to read that article or indeed this website or newspaper.

“We also reserve the right to use as much te reo Māori as we please, which has also been enshrined by the Media Council.”

Mr Mather said Mr Kirkness implied he had no right to complain.

The Media Council believes Mr Mather has misread the response. Of course, he is entitled to complain and, where possible, supply evidence to show how any of the Council’s Principles may have been breached. In this instance no case has been made to show there has been a breach.

This was an opinion piece in which the author defended the use of Te Reo. It was clearly presented as opinion, and while Mr Mather may disagree, there is no evidence the facts on which the opinion was based were inaccurate.

 

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