11 Sep 2013

Maori TV fails to decide on leader

12:36 am on 11 September 2013

The board of Maori Television has decided not to appoint a new chief executive, after it was unable to reach a unanimous decision.

The board has been looking to replace Jim Mather, who is leaving the station to join Te Wananga o Aotearoa.

It is understood the two top contenders for the job were former TVNZ general manager of Maori and Pacific programmes Paora Maxwell and Maori development consultant Richard Jefferies.

Claims have been made of a conflict of interest in the selection process involving chair Georgina te Heuheu although the board said in a statement on Tuesday the recruitment process was handled appropriately.

Ms te Heuheu says the speculation has been regrettable and she is disappointed by the distress caused to the applicants.

She says given the importance of the role, the board prefers to take the necessary time to ensure the best outcome possible.

Ms te Heuheu says the board faced considerable pressure throughout the recruitment process but remains confident it has been handled appropriately.

"We've decided not to appoint at this time, to take time to consider our options. We'll also consult with our shareholders in the meantime and we'll see where we go from there."

Ms te Heuheu refused to comment on criticism from the Labour Party that Mr Maxwell was put on the shortlist only after her intervention.

The board says a further announcement will made next month regarding an interim chief executive following Mr Mather's departure.

Prime Minister John Key says the board's decision to put off the appointment is a matter for it to resolve. Mr Key says the board has to be comfortable with its decision.