Case Number: 2880

Council Meeting: MARCH 2020

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Ruling Categories: Sensationalism


On March 1, 2020 New Zealand Herald published Auckland detectives travel to West Coast for Mount Eden human remains case.

The article outlined the Police work to establish the identity of human remains found in the backyard of a Mount Eden house. The remains had been unearthed by a digger on January 31.The Police were following on the trail of a man who had owned the Mount Eden house, but who went missing in the early 2000s. The man had previously lived on the West Coast and had owned a property in Blackball.

The intro to the story read Auckland detectives this week descended on the tiny West Coast town of Blackball brandishing a photo of a man thought to have owned the Mount Eden home where human remains were found.

It was this intro, and particularly the use of the words descended and brandished, that Ian Robinson complained about. He said the use of those two words does not properly fit into any of the alternative definitions given in the Merriam-Webster dictionary, which he lists. He notes that Collins dictionary definitions are in the same vein. There was no need for this emotive type of reporting, he said.

The editor responded that while his view was that the words are justifiable, perhaps using both in the same sentence was over egging the pudding.

The Media Council notes that the use of these two words might be rather florid, but there was no Principle that referred to the use of over-emphatic or dramatic language.


There are no grounds to argue a breach of any Media Council principle and this complaint will not proceed.