Case Number: 3431

Council Meeting: 25 September 2023

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Discovery TV3 Newshub

Principle: Discrimination and Diversity

Ruling Categories: Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori

  1. During Newshub’s The Hui programme on June 26, 2023, Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi said in response to questions put to them in a studio interview that they believed National Party leader Christopher Luxton and ACT Party leader David Seymour were racist. 
  2. Martin McAtear complained saying he found their comments offensive, leading to racism and inciting hatred to these people. “I demand proof of this racism referred to or, if this is unsubstantiated, then I demand a full retraction to be televised.” 
  3. In response, Newshub said it apologised for any offence the livestream video caused but it did not believe there had been any breach of Media Council Principles. 
  4. It quoted in detail the relevant section of the video:  Ms Ngarewa-Packer said Mr Luxon was “utilising anti-Māori rhetoric to be able to gain points with his voters.” The presenter asked her, “so he's a racist?” to which she replied “'yes.” 
  5. In a follow up question, the presenter asked, “David Seymour, the same?” She replied “David Seymour is using the same social theory to, for moral panic, utilising the same tool of racism. And racists have to use those tools because they can't rely on intelligent, pro-Māori tangata whenua rights, so what they're doing is using their might over right to create disharmony and division in Aotearoa.” 
  6. Newshub acknowledged the comments could be polarising.  However, the comments were clearly identifiable as their opinion, which they were entitled to express and Ms Ngarewa-Packer provided commentary to explain her views. 
  7. Newshub said it was important to hear the views of politicians on issues like this so people could form their own view of those politicians. 
  8. Newshub added the comments were reported on Newshub Live at 6pm the same day along with David Seymour’s response in which he said ACT stood for universal human rights and services targeted on need rather than race. 
  9. The complaint was referred to the Media Council after the Broadcasting Standards Authority ruled that livestream video was outside its jurisdiction. 
  10. In considering this complaint the Council understood Mr McAtear’s concern and could see how he might have found the comments to be offensive. However, as the Council has ruled on many occasions there is no right not to be offended. 
  11. The Media Council’s founding remit is that there is no more important principle in a democracy than freedom of expression and that freedom of expression and freedom of the media are inextricably bound. 
  12. Ms Ngarewa-Parker was free to express her view that the National and ACT Party leaders were racist. There was no requirement for her to prove it as Mr McAtear demanded, but we note she did explain her reasoning. 
  13. The Council said race and racism are perennial issues in politics and reference to it in this situation was clearly not gratuitous.   
  14. The Council also notes that Mr Seymour was given the opportunity to respond to the comment when it was reported in the subsequent 6pm news bulletin. 
  15. Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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