Case Number: 3026

Council Meeting: APRIL 2021

Verdict: No Grounds to Proceed

Publication: Stuff

Ruling Categories: Accuracy
Balance, Lack Of


On 30 March 2021, Stuff published a story titled Neighbours at war: Catheter bag emptied on vegetable garden.Reporting a Tenancy Tribunal ruling, the story covered a long-running dispute between two unnamed neighbours in Kawhia, including allegations against a tenant identified as R. The tribunal ordered the landlord to pay $1670 as it had not done enough to ensure R’s behaviour did not impinge on the other tenant’s rights.

The complainant, who the Media Council has decided not to name to prevent the identification of the parties to the dispute, said the story was about a relative, who would be easily identifiable to people living in the small town. The story was one-sided and none of the accusations were true, she said. It was an unwarranted attack on an old man.

Stuff responded that the story was an accurate report of a publicly available Tenancy Tribunal ruling. Following the lead of the tribunal, Stuff had used a pseudonym, and while the complainant might be able to identify the man, this would not be the case for those who did not know a similar amount of detail about him. The story accurately reflected the version of events that the tribunal accepted, and if the complainant had issues with this she should take it up with the tribunal. If the tribunal’s findings were altered, Stuff would report that.

The Media Council notes that all the information in the story is taken directly from the Tenancy Tribunal ruling, which is a public document, and Stuff was entitled to report it.

No Principles have been breached.

Finding: Insufficient Grounds to Proceed.