Maori Party co-leader Tariana Turia says plans to spend $3 million of development funding supporting Maori Television's Rugby World Cup coverage is drawing fire from some Maori.
Maori Television is using money from the ministry, Te Puni Kokiri, to help boost its tender for for free-to-air broadcast rights during the event in New Zealand in 2011.
Maori Affairs Minister and Maori Party co-leader Pita Sharples approved the funding.
Mrs Turia told Waatea News the party has been getting emails from Maori saying Te Puni Kokiri should be helping people get through the recession, rather than broadcasting sport.
But she said there are long-term benefits in the deal, under which the ministry would buy programming around the channel's free-to-air coverage which highlights Maori language, culture and business success.
"(It's) very important to Maori to be showcasing the Cup but more importantly to be enabling of those who would want to get involved in showcasing what they're doing as well," she said.
Mrs Turia said she was not involved in the decision to back Maori Television's bid.