BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Greenslade and Discovery NZ Ltd - 2021-105 (10 November 2021)

Members
  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
Dated
Complainant
  • Mark Greenslade
Number
2021-105
Programme
The Hui
Broadcaster
Discovery NZ Ltd
Channel/Station
Three

Summary

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

The Authority declined to determine a complaint that The Hui breached the discrimination and denigration standard through its use of te reo Māori without subtitles, and by demonstrating ‘Māori-centric racism’ in its discussion of whether mātauranga Māori should be viewed as science. In all the circumstances, the Authority found the complaint did not raise any issues of broadcasting standards that could properly be determined by its complaints process.

Declined to Determine (section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, in all the circumstances)


The complaint

[1]  Mark Greenslade referred a complaint about an episode of The Hui broadcast on 2 August 2021 to the Authority. The Hui is a programme presented by Mihingarangi Forbes, which focuses on Māori current affairs.

[2]  The programme at issue focused on the debate regarding whether mātauranga Māori should be viewed as science, which emerged following ‘an NCEA working group's proposed changes to the school curriculum that will ensure parity for mātauranga Māori with other bodies of knowledge.’1 The proposed changes led several University of Auckland science academics to write a letter to The Listener expressing concern about the proposed changes, stating ‘in the discovery of empirical, universal truths, [indigenous knowledge] falls far short of what we can define as science itself.’2 The broadcast featured a pre-recorded interview with Professor Michael Corballis, one of the authors of the letter to The Listener, followed by a panel discussion.

[3]  Greenslade complained that the host’s use of te reo Māori without subtitles, as well as her interview with Professor Corballis, breached the discrimination and denigration standard. He complained that Ms Forbes demonstrated ‘Māori-centric racism’ in her interview by making judgmental comments about Professor Corballis’s views (including suggesting that they were elitist), and expressing the view that mātauranga Māori is science when it incorporates Māori myths and legends. He also disagreed with the view of a panel member during the panel discussion that Māori children had to see themselves in what they are being taught for it to resonate.

The broadcaster’s response

[4]  Discovery NZ Ltd did not uphold Greenslade’s complaint. It referred to the Authority’s position that the use of te reo Māori is not a broadcasting issue, and considered that the host was entitled to test and probe Professor Corballis as part of an interview on an issue of high public interest. It considered that there was nothing malicious or nasty in the broadcast, and that it did not meet the high threshold necessary to conclude that the discrimination and denigration standard was breached.

Outcome: declined to determine

[5]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined.

[6]  We decline to determine this complaint for the following reasons:

  • Complaints about the use of te reo Māori, an official language of New Zealand, do not raise any issue of potential harm as envisaged by the broadcasting standards.3
  • The complaint does not draw a strong connection between the concerns raised and the discrimination and denigration standard, and does not clearly explain the section of the community which is being discriminated against.
  • Much of the complaint relates to Mr Greenslade’s personal views as to whether mātauranga Māori should be brought into the school curriculum, and his disagreement with the stance taken by Ms Forbes and the panel. These are matters of personal preference and editorial discretion which do not raise broadcasting standards issues.4   

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Susie Staley
Acting Chair
10 November 2021

 

 


Appendix

The correspondence listed below was received and considered by the Authority when it determined this complaint:

1  Mark Greenslade’s complaint to Discovery – 3 August 2021

2  Discovery’s response to the complaint – 31 August 2021

3  Greenslade’s referral to the Authority – 8 September 2021

4  Discovery’s confirmation of no further comments – 10 September 2021


1 Māni Dunlop “University academics’ claim mātauranga Māori ‘not science’ sparks controversy” RNZ (online ed, New Zealand, 28 July 2021)
2 As above
3 KS and Television New Zealand Ltd, Decision No. 2020-135
4 See section 5(c) of the Broadcasting Act 1989, which states that complaints based merely on a complainant’s preferences are not, in general, capable of being resolved by a complaints procedure