14 Oct 2013

MP refuses to resign over Maori Television claims

8:53 pm on 14 October 2013

The tribal authority of Ngati Rangiwewehi of Rotorua is demanding that Dunedin South MP Clare Curran resign over her criticism of the Maori Television recruitment process.

But the MP says she has no intention of resigning and believes she is doing her job as an opposition Member of Parliament by raising concerns about an important appointment process of a tax-payer funded organisation.

Ms Curran had accused Maori TV chair Georgina Te Heuheu of a link with leading contender for the job Paora Maxwell but his iwi, Ngati Rangiwewehi, has said in a statement Ms Curran must resign as she has no credibility.

The iwi is rejecting allegations Mr Maxwell was only put on the shortlist after Ms Te Heuheu's intervention.

Te Maru o Ngati Rangiwewehi chairperson Yvonne Bidois says the iwi finds it extremely distasteful Ms Curran chose to put a number of accusations Mr Paora Maxwell in to the public arena under the veil of parliamentary privilege.

Mr Maxwell is a former TVNZ general manager of Maori and Pacific programmes who was in contention for the role of chief executive of Maori TV, alongside Maori development consultant Richard Jefferies.

Ms Curran's allegations were made before Mr Maxwell even got the job, which Mrs Bidois called a deliberate attempt to discredit and disadvantage him in his application.

Mr Maxwell's mana and his hard-earned integrity have been discredited, as well as his whanau and iwi, she says.

Apology sought

Ngati Rangiwewehi is calling for a meeting with Ms Curran, and an apology.

But Ms Curran says the process must be transparent and above-board, and in it was not. She says Mr Maxwell's appointment process stalled following a petition signed by most Maori Television, who are united against his appointment.

She is urging shareholding minister Bill English to pay close attention to the recruitment process.

Ms Curran says she has not ruled out meeting with Ngati Rangiwewehi but the issue is yet to fully play out, and more information will come to light about the resignation of Maori TV board member Ian Taylor.

Mr Taylor resigned on 10 September, the same day the channel decided not to go ahead and hire a chief executive, after failing to reach a unanimous decision on whether to choose him or Richard Jefferies.

Mr Taylor - of Ngati Kahungunu and Ngapuhi - won't say why he resigned from the board, except to say his colleagues should have stood up to political pressure rather than panicked over political attacks on its process to hire a new chief executive.

Maori Television intends to hire an interim chief executive before embarking on a fresh round of recruitment.

Mr Maxwell has submitted a response to alter the record of the House to Speaker David Carter over Ms Curran's comments, which were made under Parliamentary privilege.

Ms Curran says she, too, has provided a response to the Speaker and a process is under way to resolve the issue, the outcome of which will be decided by Mr Carter.

Mrs Te Heuheu says the right process has been followed, and there has been no conflict of interest.

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