Case Number: 3481

Council Meeting: February 2024

Decision: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: New Zealand Herald

Principle: Accuracy, Fairness and Balance
Headlines and Captions

Ruling Categories: Politicians

The NZ Herald published a story on 9 January 2023 headed ‘I did not strike her’: Former Nats minister investigated over family funeral fight about an incident at the funeral of former MP Alfred Ngaro’s mother. As his mother’s body was being carried out of the house in the Cook Islands, a fight had broken out. Police had been called and five people, including Mr Ngaro, were due to be re-interviewed by police, the story said. 

Vicki Bailey complained that the fact that Mr Ngaro had been a National minister should have only been a small part of the story and not part of the headline. He hadn’t been a National MP for three years and had stood for the Christian NewZeal Party at the last election. The story was biased against the National Party. It would have been better to reference his current role in the story.  Violence from a member of a Christian party was distasteful, as was violence from anyone at a funeral.  

The NZ Herald rejected the suggestion that the story showed bias. It would have been written the same way if Mr Ngaro had been a Labour minister. “The fact Alfred Ngaro was a minister in a large political party is what gives the story its news value. The behaviour of elected officials is of importance to those who live in a democratic society,” the NZ Herald said. 

The Media Council agrees with the NZ Herald that the reason the story is newsworthy is because Mr Ngaro was a National MP and minister for a number of years. He only lost his seat in 2020, so his time with the National Party is reasonably recent. He is more well known for being a National government minister than for his more recent membership of a small party which gained less that one per cent of the vote at the last election. It was perfectly appropriate for the NZ Herald to draw attention to Mr Ngaro’s connection with the National Party as an MP and minister. 

Decision: There were insufficient grounds to proceed.


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