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BSA upholds complaint from Ōwairaka activist that RNZ item misrepresented her views

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) has upheld a complaint from environmental activist Lisa Prager that an RNZ Checkpoint item misrepresented her position and was unfair to her.

The Checkpoint item summarised the complainant’s submission at a Waitematā local board public meeting, which concerned ongoing discussions about, and protests opposing, the felling of mature exotic trees to make way for the planting of natives on Ōwairaka Mt Albert.

The item reported that “the sparks continued to fly when activist Lisa Prager described how she had claimed mana whenua status in her bid to save the trees but now regrets the move. [One] board member… refused to thank Ms Prager for her submission because, she said, her comments were ‘a bit racist’.”

The Authority viewed Ms Prager’s full submission online, and agreed that the use of the word ‘regrets’ did not accurately reflect her view expressed at the meeting: “...I retire any claim to being mana whenua whatsoever. But I have no regrets in standing up and initiating the conversation across this country...”

The Authority also agreed the manner in which the complainant’s views were reported had the potential to adversely affect her reputation and dignity, particularly when broadcast alongside the suggestion that her submission was ‘a bit racist’ and without any comment from the complainant or an opportunity to mitigate potential unfairness to her.

The broadcast did include audio of Ms Prager’s brief, heat-of-the-moment response to the “racist” claim at the meeting, but the Authority said this was insufficient given the seriousness of the accusation and because it did not respond to the misrepresentation of her overall position.

The Authority ordered the broadcaster to pay a contribution of $1,818 towards the complainant’s legal costs but otherwise considered publication of the decision was sufficient to address the breach.


For more information contact Raina Ng on 021 623 794.



The item was broadcast on 25 February 2020 on RNZ National. The full decision is available at The decision was made under the Radio Code of Broadcasting Practice which is available to view on our website:


The BSA is an independent Crown entity that oversees the broadcasting standards regime in New Zealand. The BSA determines complaints that broadcasts have breached standards, undertakes research and oversees the development of broadcasting standards in consultation with broadcasters.

The Authority members are Judge Bill Hastings (Chair), Paula Rose QSO, Susie Staley MNZM and Leigh Pearson. The Acting Chief Executive is Helen Cruse.

For more information see our website: