JERRY TILLEY AGAINST STUFF
Case Number: 3193
Council Meeting: JANUARY 2022
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori
CASE NO: 3193
RULING OF THE NEW ZEALAND MEDIA COUNCIL ON THE COMPLAINT OF JERRY TILLEY AGAINST STUFF
FINDING: INSUFFICIENT GROUNDS TO PROCEED
DATE: JANUARY 2022
Jerry Tilley complained on August 11, 2021, about Stuff’s use of Aotearoa as the name for New Zealand.
He said it was used by a minority of people and is not the correct term for the country. He also objected to its sole use instead of both names being used.
Stuff deputy editor Janine Fenwick replied saying te reo Māori is an official language of New Zealand and it is endangered.
“We consider that Stuff – as the country’s largest website – has a role to play in the normalisation and revitalisation of the language. We use Aotearoa and New Zealand interchangeably on the website – there is no concerted effort to use one or the other.
She cited an earlier Media Council ruling which stated the use of te reo Māori words is at the discretion of individual news organisations. It added that Aotearoa was widely used as an alternative name and was accepted as such by most New Zealanders.
Mr Tilley complained again in September protesting the exclusive use of Māori words and headings in the newspaper. He said, “Maori is a minority language and English is the language of the majority.”
Ms Fenwick said Stuff changed its branding and section titles to te reo Māori during Māori Language Week and did not think changing section names made it too difficult for New Zealanders to understand what they were reading.
” For 51 weeks of the year they are in English, so offering them in another language can help people learn those words. The labels on each story are still in English and if you click through to the section, you’ll see the English titles remain.”
Mr Tilley wrote again in November saying the use of Māori names was happening more frequently and often “the traditional name” is no longer given.
The Media Council has long held the view, expressed in now numerous decisions, that use of Māori language is a matter of style for editors to determine in their discretion. The use of te reo is not a breach of any of the Media Council principles.
There were insufficient grounds to proceed.