BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Finau and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2019-016 (4 June 2019)

  • Paula Rose
  • Wendy Palmer
  • Susie Staley
  • Ike Finau
TV One


[This summary does not form part of the decision.]

The Authority has not upheld a complaint that two answers provided during Mastermind New Zealand, about historical New Zealand events, were inaccurate and unbalanced. The Authority noted that both questions appeared to have been answered accurately by the contestant. Viewers were unlikely to be left misled or misinformed by the omission of further context around these answers, particularly given the well-known quiz format of the programme. The programme did not discuss a controversial issue of public importance, given historical events were raised only briefly in the form of quiz questions, and the requirements of the balance standard therefore did not apply. 

Not Upheld: Accuracy, Balance


The item

[1]  During a repeat episode of BBC’s Mastermind New Zealand, host Peter Williams asked a contestant the following two questions in the section about New Zealand history:

  • What did thousands of workers celebrate for the first time in New Zealand on 28 October 1890?
  • On the 20th of March 1834, which British Consular representative met Māori chiefs from the far north and chose New Zealand’s first flag, the United Tribes of New Zealand?

[2]  The contestant answered ‘Labour Day’ and ‘James Busby’ respectively, with both answers being confirmed correct by Mr Williams.

[3]  This episode was broadcast at 5pm on 6 January 2019 on TVNZ 1. In considering this complaint, we have viewed a recording of the broadcast complained about and have read the correspondence listed in the Appendix.

The complaint

[4]  Ike Finau complained that the programme’s presentation of these two questions was inaccurate and unbalanced. He submitted that a connection should have been made between the first Labour Day and the United Tribes of New Zealand flag, and that the second question should have referred to events at a ‘flag referendum select committee’, which he believed were relevant. Mr Finau requested a copy of select committee footage in support of his complaint.

[5]  TVNZ responded:

  • The balance standard applies only to news, current affairs and factual programmes which ‘discuss’ a controversial issue of public importance. A ‘discussion’ is a serious examination of an issue. In this case, issues were raised only in a brief, peripheral way, in the context of quiz show questions.
  • The Complaints Committee could see no link between the two questions. Both questions and their answers were accurate and, in the context of a quiz programme, no discussion or context was required to be provided.

[6]  In relation to Mr Finau’s request for footage, TVNZ submitted that the Authority is only able to consider complaints about broadcast programmes. Material relating to ‘the flag referendum select committee’ was not broadcast, or discussed during, the Mastermind New Zealand programme.

The standards

[7]  The balance standard (Standard 8) states that when controversial issues of public importance are discussed in news, current affairs and factual programmes, broadcasters should make reasonable efforts, or give reasonable opportunities, to present significant points of view either in the same programme or in other programmes within the period of current interest.

[8]  The accuracy standard (Standard 9) states that broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure that news, current affairs and factual programming is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead.

Our findings

[9]  First, we do not consider that we require additional footage of a select committee process in order to make a finding on Mr Finau’s complaint.

[10]  The events referred to by Mr Finau, regarding a flag referendum select committee hearing, were not discussed or broadcast during this episode of Mastermind New Zealand and do not appear to us to be relevant to the complaint.

[11]  We have therefore made our findings based on the programme as broadcast.


[12]  We consider that the broadcaster made reasonable efforts to ensure the accuracy of this programme.

[13]  It appears to us that the contestant answered both questions correctly. Authoritative sources cite 28 October 1890 as New Zealand’s first Labour Day. These sources also refer to James Busby as the British representative who met with Māori to choose the United Tribes of New Zealand flag, referred to as New Zealand’s first flag.1 We see no connection between these questions and, given the well-known quiz show format of this programme, we further consider viewers would not have been left misinformed or misled by the omission of further information or context around these questions.

[14]  We therefore do not uphold the complaint under the accuracy standard.


[15]  We do not consider that this programme discussed a controversial issue of public importance, for the purpose of the balance standard.

[16]  The programme raised factual information about historical events briefly and in a peripheral way, through quiz questions. There was no discussion or debate about the events, which can be expected from a quiz programme in which a time limit applies for the contestant to answer questions.

[17]  We therefore do not uphold this aspect of the complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.  

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority




Paula Rose


4 June 2019





The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority:

1      Ike Finau’s formal complaint – 4 February 2019

2      TVNZ’s response to the complaint – 4 March 2019

3      Mr Finau’s referral to the Authority – 27 March 2019

4      TVNZ’s confirmation of no further comment – 30 April 2019

5      Mr Finau’s final comments – 6 and 10 May 2019


1 See, for example: New Zealand’s special national holidays (Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand); Labour Day (New Zealand History, 19 June 2018); New Zealand flag (Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand); New Zealand's first recognised flag chosen (New Zealand History, 20 March 2017); United Tribes flag (Ministry for Culture and Heritage, 30 November 2017)