PETER MOCHNACKI AGAINST RNZ
Case Number: 3432
Council Meeting: 25 September 2023
Decision: No Grounds to Proceed
Publication: Radio NZ
Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Headlines and Captions
Discrimination and Diversity
Photographs and Graphics
Te Reo and reporting on Te Ao Maori
Peter Mochnacki complained about a RNZ story, published on June 26, 2023 and headlined Mayor Nobby Clark called out for creating
‘massive racial divide’ with his anti-Māori comments provided no evidence.
The story covered an anti-co-governance meeting in Invercargill and reported comment by local Māori on the views expressed by Mayor Nobby Clark at the meeting. Four prominent community members were quoted, two of whom said the mayor was dividing the town with racial tension.
The story reported Mr Clark’s comment that there had been a one-sided interpretation of the Treaty of Waitangi and that he wanted the Government to pay out Ngāpuhi, then close down the Waitangi Tribunal and “start to operate as a multicultural society.”
It also ran Mr Clark’s comment that he was not anti-Māori but anti “this left-wing, woke Government that allows Māori to have way more power than they should have.”
Mr Mochnacki complained the story provided no evidence that Mr Clark was creating racial divide in his community and it was inflammatory to say that he was.
RNZ said the article very accurately reported the comments made by Mr Clark and the local runaka. Seeking comment from a diverse group of people was simply good practice in reporting such as this, especially those who may be affected by the comments made.
The Media Council considers this to be a straightforward report of local reaction to comments made by the mayor, who was courting controversy and getting it. Local community members were entitled to comment as they did, and the media were entitled to report their reaction.
The Media Council’s founding statement maintains there is no more important principle in a democracy than freedom of expression and this story reported opinions which people were free to express.
Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.