7 Oct 2009

Sharples to apologise over Maori TV rugby bid

8:02 pm on 7 October 2009

Maori Affairs Minister Pita Sharples is to apologise to the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister for not discussing Maori Television's 2011 Rugby World Cup bid with them in more detail.

Maori Television is using $3 million in funding from the ministry, Te Puni Kokiri, to help boost its tender for for free-to-air broadcast rights during the event in New Zealand. Dr Sharples approved the funding.

Dr Sharples says as a new minister he was naive to not formally discuss Te Puni Kokiri's commitment of $3 million. The funding would be used to buy a package deal of programming that will wrap around rugby broadcasts.

Dr Sharples says he appreciates he should have discussed the bid in more detail with Prime Minister John Key and Deputy Prime Minister Bill English.

He told Waatea Radio he regrets that, and will apologise to them for the error.

Meanwhile, the Maori Language Commission says Pakeha New Zealanders have nothing to fear if Maori Television wins its bid, Waatea News reports.

Maori Television says up to 10% of the commentary could have Maori terms and phrases.

Chief executive Huhana Rokx says this would be a great way to promote the Maori language and broadcasts of matches incorporating te reo Maori would be unique.