By Ellipsister (Co-Editor)
This weekend TV3’s The Nation made a conscious and unapologetic editorial choice to exclude the Māori Party from an episode looking at the state of NZ politics one year on from the election. The explanations given on Twitter for this exclusion were twofold:
- The focus was on the performance of the ‘main’ parties and ‘most improved player’
- The choice was dictated by time
The main parties as decided by The Nation included: National, Labour, Greens, NZ First and Act. Even the Conservatives got a mention. However, the Māori Party were not invited (because ‘time’) and then were expunged from the entire dialogue despite polling consistently higher than Act in the past 12 months, and having two MP’s, one of whom holds important Ministerial portfolios (Māori Development, Whānau Ora, and Associate Economic Development).
This isn’t an attempt to censor or dictate what The Nation should be delivering to their audience. But it is an unapologetic criticism of their editorial choice. The Nation hasn’t merely silenced Māori voices that champion the rights of Māori living as Māori. Nope. They erased those voices and perspectives from the entire segment in the interests of time and on a weak justification that they only saw value in the perspectives of those parties who they arbitrarily defined as the ‘main’ parties. This in my view revealed the implicit attitude of the programme that Māori perspectives are unimportant and not valued in our political discourse.
One might be tempted to respond with either:
- Both Winston Peters and David Seymour are Māori, so the criticism is categorically false; or
- The Māori Party and other Māori MP’s have appeared on the programme numerous times, so therefore it’s false to say The Nation think Māori perspectives are unimportant etc.
However, neither Peters nor Seymour champion indigenous or indeed Māori rights as tangata whenua. That’s not to say that they don’t represent the views of some Māori, nor that they are any less Māori. I am reiterating that the indigenous rights movement is weaved into the political space in Aotearoa and the Māori Party are one influential roopu of that movement who happen to wield a not insignificant level of influence in government. To ignore their contributions and excise their influence from the dialogue on a national media platform is an example of the structural muzzle that Māori advocating for indigenous rights have struggled against for decades. It also, as implied above, reinforces the erroneous view that Pākehā perspectives are more valuable than Māori. So lets call it what it is: racist. As Maisha Z. Johnson of Everyday Feminism writes:
Sometimes it’s obvious and you can easily point out that it’s wrong. But a lot of the time, it’s subtle, playing right into the implicit biases you don’t even know you have to make you believe in ideas you don’t even realize are racist.
It is not a conspiracy that corporate media outlets privilege white voices and white perspectives. But it doesn’t mean it should go unchallenged. The editorial choice of The Nation is an explicit example of Māori being consciously excluded from participation and the programme flouting their responsibility to present a balanced and representative view of the political landscape in Aotearoa.
And while I’m on this grind, the lack of noise coming from those incredibly vocal about ‘media bias’ of the left/right division, when Māori voices are erased has not gone unnoticed. On that note, I leave you with this to ponder:
White Privilege meme: