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Viti (NZ) Council E Aotearoa and Radio New Zealand Ltd - 2023-064 (12 September 2023)

  • Susie Staley MNZM (Chair)
  • John Gillespie
  • Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
  • Aroha Beck
  • Valencia Ramona Mar on behalf of Viti (NZ) Council E Aotearoa
Nine to Noon
Radio New Zealand Ltd
Radio New Zealand


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

The Authority has declined to determine a complaint the use of the term ‘iTaukei’ to refer to indigenous Fijians breached the discrimination and denigration standard. In light of the Authority’s previous finding that a similarly innocuous use of the term did not breach broadcasting standards, the Authority considered it appropriate to decline to determine the complaint.

Declined to determine (section 11(b) in all the circumstances the complaint should not be determined): Discrimination and Denigration

The broadcast

[1]  A segment on Nine to Noon, broadcast on RNZ National on 19 May 2023, included a discussion between the host and RNZ’s Pacific Editor, Koroi Hawkins, on developments in the Pacific.

[2]  The first item discussed was the suspension of all MPs of the FijiFirst opposition Party from Fiji’s Parliament, following the Party’s failure to provide audited financial statements. The situation was developing and Hawkins noted his team would be in Fiji the following week so ‘they can get more information on what’s going on’. During this item, Hawkins discussed the reinstatement of the Great Council of Chiefs due to take place the following week, which he referred to as ‘a massive cultural institution’ for ‘the iTaukei people in Fiji’.

The complaint

[3]  Viti (NZ) Council e Aotearoa complained the use of the term ‘iTaukei’ to refer to indigenous Fijians breached the discrimination and denigration standard of the Code of Broadcasting Standards in New Zealand. The complainant considered the term was derogatory and its use ‘perpetuates subtle racism and discriminatory behaviour’ given its historical context (particularly its links to the political Taukei Movement,1 and the imposition of the term on indigenous Fijians following the 2006 coup d’état led by Josaia Voreqe "Frank" Bainimarama CF OStJ MSD (former Fijian Prime Minister)).

[4]  The complainant considered the more appropriate term to use was ‘indigenous Fijians’.

The broadcaster’s response

[5]  RNZ did not uphold the complaint, noting the reference was ‘broadly in accordance with the common meaning of the word’ and therefore did not breach broadcasting standards. It also noted that ‘even if for some reason it could be found to be inaccurate, it would not have affected the thrust of the item which was at that part of the programme a report on the suspension of all 24 [FijiFirst MPs] from the Fijian parliament.’

Outcome: Decline to Determine

[6]  Section 11(b) of the Broadcasting Act 1989 authorises the Authority to decline to determine a complaint if it considers that, in all the circumstances of the complaint, it should not be determined by the Authority.2

[7]  The decisions of the Authority issued over time provide guidance to broadcasters and complainants about what is acceptable under broadcasting standards.

[8]  We consider it appropriate to exercise our s 11(b) discretion in this instance to decline to determine the complaint:

  • The Authority has previously found the use of the word ‘iTaukei’ to refer to indigenous Fijians did not breach broadcasting standards. In that case, the Authority acknowledged the potentially ‘controversial and divisive’ process by which the term was adopted in Fiji, but also noted the term has differing usage, and can be ‘a polite way of referring to Fijians’.3 In circumstances where the host of the broadcast briefly used the term to greet listeners, the Authority did not uphold the complaint, noting the usage was ‘innocuous’ and not intended as a ‘form of political commentary’.4
  • Although that complaint was determined in 2017, and we acknowledge the use of language evolves over time, we consider the above approach remains appropriate at this point in time.
  • Further, the term is set out and defined in Fiji’s constitution and is used by the Fijian Government (which has a ‘Ministry of iTaukei Affairs’).5 This Authority cannot be the arbiter of a controversy about the correct use of names in this context.
  • The term was used once in the segment, as a brief reference to the Great Council of Chiefs being of importance to iTaukei people, and was peripheral to the key issue being discussed; being the suspension of MPs from Fiji’s Parliament.
  • We consider the use of the term ‘iTaukei’ in this broadcast was substantially similar to its usage in our previous decision (ie innocuous), and see no reason to revisit this finding.
  • To the extent the complainant preferred the use of the term ‘indigenous Fijians’, this is a matter of personal preference and editorial discretion which does not raise broadcasting standards issues.6

For the above reasons the Authority declines to determine the complaint.

Signed for and on behalf of the Authority



Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i
12 September 2023    




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

1  Viti (NZ) Council e Aotearoa correspondence with RNZ – 12 June 2023

2  RNZ’s decision on complaint – 28 June 2023

3  Viti (NZ) Council e Aotearoa’s referral to BSA and Media Council – 30 June 2023

4  RNZ objecting to Authority’s jurisdiction – 21 July 2023

5  Viti (NZ) Council e Aotearoa’s confirming scope of referral to BSA – 21 July 2023

6  Viti (NZ) Council e Aotearoa’s further submission – 20 August 2023

1 The complainant appears to refer to a 1996 Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board report on the issue: Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada Fiji: Information on the Taukei Movement, the people they target, the reasons they target people and on how they are being treated by the police and other state authorities (1 December 1996)
2 See also: Broadcasting Standards Authority | Te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho “Guidance: BSA power to decline to determine a complaint” <>
3 Waqanivala and Radio Voqa Kei Viti Aotearoa, Decision No. 2017-046 at [12]
4 Waqanivala and Radio Voqa Kei Viti Aotearoa, Decision No. 2017-046 at [13]
5 Ministry of iTaukei Affairs <>
6 Broadcasting Act 1989, s 5(c)