BSA Decisions Ngā Whakatau a te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho

All BSA's decisions on complaints 1990-present

Hapeta and Television New Zealand Ltd - 2020-172 (22 June 2021)

Members
  • Judge Bill Hastings (Chair)
  • Leigh Pearson
  • Paula Rose QSO
  • Susie Staley MNZM
Dated
Complainant
  • Dean Hapeta
Number
2020-172
Programme
1 News
Channel/Station
TV One

Summary  

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

The Authority has not upheld a complaint about an item on 1 News in which Darryl Leigh Thomson was described as a co-writer of the song ‘E Tū’. While the Authority agreed it was not accurate to describe Mr Thomson as having co-written the song, it found TVNZ made reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy.

Not Upheld: Accuracy


The broadcast

[1]  An item on 1 News, broadcast at 6pm on 9 October 2020, reported that ‘pioneering New Zealand hip hop artist’ Darryl Leigh Thomson (known as DLT, a member of Upper Hutt Posse) was being recognised by the Waiata Māori Music Awards. The introduction stated, ‘as a teenager, he co-wrote what's believed to be Aotearoa's first hip hop single, E Tū. He went on to forge a career working with some of the nation's best.’

[2]  The item discussed the impact of the song, with DLT saying, ‘the idea of E Tū was to tell the neighbourhood kids where we lived to stand up and stop being subservient to anyone’. The reporter commented, ‘in 1988 this is how we put it…he was the band's DJ… Still at school they were giving New Zealand a history lesson’. The item included an interview with fellow Upper Hutt Posse member Teremoana Rapley who ‘was there at the very beginning too’, and discussed DLT’s life now as a Māori art student.

The complaint

[3]  Dean Hapeta complained the description of DLT as ‘co-writer’ of the song ‘E Tū’ was misleading in breach of the accuracy standard, as Mr Hapeta was the ‘main composer’ (though DLT contributed to it):

  • ‘Though the story is about an award being presented to DLT, it begins and ends with the song E Tū, which I co-wrote with my brother, and E Tū is of key 'material substance' to DLT being given the award in the story.’
  • ‘TVNZ has claimed that their reporter was led to believe DLT co-wrote the song—by DLT himself, APRA, and the National Waiata Maori Awards. And TVNZ have said that the statement was not a 'material inaccuracy.' Yet I say it is both 'materially inaccurate' and 'actually inaccurate,' and I can prove that it is with evidence from DLT as well as APRA, including APRA royalty statements of 31 years (The TVNZ [reporter’s] claim of APRA supporting her claim is nonsense).’

[4]  Mr Hapeta also commented:

That TVNZ hasn't made any move at all to correct such an untruth is a major failing and I'm of the opinion that were I a celebrated Pākehā songwriter (rather than a celebrated Māori songwriter) TVNZ would have made amends as soon as they were made aware of their mistake.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  TVNZ did not uphold Mr Hapeta’s complaint, saying:

  • ‘The reporter’s understanding that DLT co-wrote “E Tū” was based on information provided by Mr Thomson, APRA, and the National Waiata Māori Music Awards. There was no obvious reason for the reporter to have doubted the accuracy of this information.’
  • ‘In any event, even if the information was not technically correct…it did not amount [to] a “material inaccuracy”’.

[6]  In response to further questions from the Authority, the reporter explained:

I rang to organise the interview on the basis of the press release from Waiata Māori Music Awards, which stated that he [DLT] co-wrote the song. That’s how we organise stories. People sometimes put out a press release saying that someone iconic is getting an award and then we follow it up. I got it on Oct 6. There was no reason to question that press release. Especially when I organised the story on the basis of 1. First hip hop song, 2. He co-wrote it 3. He’s a legend.

The standard

[7]  The purpose of the accuracy standard1 is to protect the public from being significantly misinformed.2 It states broadcasters should make reasonable efforts to ensure any news, current affairs or factual programme is accurate in relation to all material points of fact, and does not mislead.

Our analysis

[8]  We have watched the broadcast and read the correspondence listed in the Appendix. We also contacted Mr Hapeta several times after our last correspondence from him on 1 February 2021, and he did not respond to the further information provided by TVNZ.

[9]  We have considered the important right to freedom of expression, which is our starting point. This includes the broadcaster’s right to offer a range of content and information and the audience’s right to receive that content. We may only intervene and uphold a complaint where the broadcast has caused actual or potential harm at a level that justifies placing a reasonable limit on the right to freedom of expression.

[10]  Determination of a complaint under the accuracy standard occurs in two steps. The first step is to consider whether the programme contained an inaccurate ‘material point of fact’, or was misleading. Being ‘misled’ is defined as being given a ‘wrong idea or impression of the facts’.3

[11]  The second step is to consider whether reasonable efforts were made by the broadcaster to ensure that the programme was accurate and did not mislead.4 In the event a material error of fact has occurred, broadcasters should correct it at the earliest appropriate opportunity.5

Was the programme materially inaccurate?

[12]  We consider the statement ‘he co-wrote what's believed to be Aotearoa's first hip hop single, E Tū’ was a statement of fact which was material to the broadcast:

  • The focus of the item was on the recognition of DLT’s career by the Waiata Māori Music Awards.
  • The E Tū song was highlighted in the story, with the presenter and reporter both opening by saying DLT was co-writer.
  • Clips of the song played throughout.
  • ‘E Tū’ and its significance was an aspect of DLT’s career, and it was relevant for the audience to understand that Upper Hutt Posse and DLT were involved in a significant part of New Zealand’s hip hop history.
  • The item was broadly canvassing DLT’s life and discussing with him his motivations both in his early career and present-day artistic pursuits, to which ‘E Tū’ was relevant.

[13]  In our assessment of whether the statement was accurate, we considered the following:

  • DLT was a contributor to the song:
    • He was credited with ‘turntables’.6
    • It is reported elsewhere that ‘DLT taught himself to scratch records so that he could back his friend D-Word (Dean Hapeta)’7 
    • ‘Bridging the gap between hip hop and pātere (chant), ‘E Tū’ saw Upper Hutt Posse’s D Word, aka Te Kupu (Dean Hapeta) and B-Ware (Bennett Pomana) chant down Babylon over a sparse beat, punctuated by stab scratches from DLT (Darryl Thomson).’8
  • Interviews with Mr Hapeta have him described or describing himself as the writer of the song:
    • ‘Dean Hapeta: "When I wrote [‘E Tū’] in ’87, man, there was still so many people who just believed that Māori gave away the land willingly for blankets”’.9
    • ‘In 1987, Dean noted that Māori were being disparaged by the media and society in general and wrote E Tū as a message to fellow Māori to stand tall and be proud. He has used his music as a way to share his awareness of social and political injustice.’10
    • ‘I wrote “E Tū”, which was the first song that brought in Māori lyrics in that way. I wrote that in 1987. But I was inspired to write that song by James Brown's “Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud”’.11
  • A number of other sources credit Mr Hapeta as the writer, or with lyrics.12

[14]  From information readily available online, we consider Dean Hapeta is the main co-writer (with his brother) of ‘E Tū’ and although DLT was a contributor to the song, it is not accurate to describe DLT as having co-written the song.

Did the broadcaster make reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy?

[15]  However, a broadcaster’s obligation is not to ensure accuracy but to make ‘reasonable efforts to ensure accuracy’.

[16]  On this issue, TVNZ has provided us with a copy of the press release issued by the Waiata Māori Music Awards upon which it based the story. This press release sets out background on DLT:

DLT moved from Hawke’s Bay to Upper Hutt in the 1980s where he, along with Dean Hapeta, formed Upper Hutt Posse and released what is believed to be New Zealand’s first hip-hop single, E Tū, in 1988.

The two wrote the song when they were still teens. It tackled themes around inequality and racism…

[17]  Given the detail in this press release, and lack of comments from the interviewees to the contrary, we consider it was reasonable for the reporter to rely on this information without questioning it further.13

[18]  Accordingly, we do not uphold the complaint.

For the above reasons the Authority does not uphold the complaint.
Signed for and on behalf of the Authority

 

Judge Bill Hastings

Chair

22 June 2021

 


Appendix

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

1  Dean Hapeta’s complaint to TVNZ – 14 October 2020

2  TVNZ’s decision – 2 December 2020

3  Mr Hapeta’s referral to the BSA – 7 December 2020

4  TVNZ’s comments on the referral – 28 January 2021

5  Mr Hapeta’s final comments – 1 February 2021

6  TVNZ’s further information as requested by BSA – 1 & 15 April, 5 May 2021


1 Standard 9 of the Free-to-Air Television Code of Broadcasting Practice
2 Commentary: Accuracy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 18
3 Attorney General of Samoa v TVWorks Ltd, CIV-2011-485-1110
4 Commentary: Accuracy, Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand Codebook, page 19
5 Guideline 9c
6 Discogs “Upper Hutt Posse – E Tū” <www.discogs.com>
7 NZ Hip Hop Stand Up podcast “Episode 1: Upper Hutt Posse 'E Tū'” RNZ (online ed, New Zealand, 23 July 2020)
8 Sam Wicks “E Tū: Thirty years on” RNZ (online ed, New Zealand, 18 October 2018)
9 As above
10 NZ Hip Hop Stand Up podcast “Episode 1: Upper Hutt Posse 'E Tū'” RNZ (online ed, New Zealand, 23 July 2020)
11 NZ On Screen (2004) “E Tū (Te Reo Māori Remix)” <www.nzonscreen.com>
12 See, for example, Discogs “Upper Hutt Posse – E Tū” <www.discogs.com>; New Zealand Folksong “E Tū – Stand Proud” <www.folksong.org.nz>; and Kaitiaki Rodger “Close Analysis of E Tū: Responding to Cultural Change through Music Politics in the 1970s” <www.awa.auckland.ac.nz>
13 Guideline 9d