Media restrictions for kapa haka festival criticised

Updated at 7:43 pm on 26 February 2013

Media commentator Gavin Ellis says organisers of Te Matatini placed impossible restrictions on media trying to cover the national kapa haka festival in Rotorua last week.

An exclusive broadcast deal was signed with Maori Television and iwi radio station Te Arawa FM.

Filming bans were placed on TV3 and Television New Zealand's news programmes for breaching Te Matatini media rules.

Gavin Ellis, a former editor of The New Zealand Herald, told Radio New Zealand's Nine to Noon programme that most people have missed out on seeing the cream of Maori culture.

He says organisers have overplayed their hand - and unfortunately New Zealanders are the losers.

Mr Ellis says although Maori Television does an excellent job, it is still off the radar for a lot of viewers - and as a result many people would not have seen some splendid performances

Gavin Ellis says if he was still running a newspaper he would not try to cover the festival because organisers are attempting to manipulate the media.

Despite Te Matatini being partly funded by government agencies, Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples supports the organisation making its own media rules.

Dr Sharples says Te Matatini Society Incorporated is a formally constituted body in charge of administering itself.

Te Matatini has not retuned calls from Radio New Zealand's Te Manu Korihi News asking for comment.

Listen to Gavin Ellis on Nine to Noon ( 11 min 17 sec )

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