COMMENT: By Martyn Bradbury
TVNZ have made the decision to exclude the Māori Party from their election debates.
The argument being forwarded by TVNZ is that the Māori Party is polling too low to be included.
However, TVNZ is the state broadcaster and the state broadcaster carries larger obligations to New Zealand’s political process and to Māori.
So the decision seems to fly in the face of the broadcaster’s wider obligations.
The seven Māori electorates barely get news oxygen as it is, and while the Māori Party are currently polling 1 percent, a small increase in that number alongside an electorate win would bring two MPs into Parliament.
But those pathways to power aside, the Māori Party represents the only uniquely Māori political aspiration running this election, and banning their leaders from participating in Leader debates seems more 18th century colonialism than 21st Century public broadcasting.
The Māori Party have challenged TVNZ’s decision on this, but if it isn’t overturned, the Leadership debates look set to be a very Pakeha Party discussion which is especially dangerous to Māori seeing as they are the ones who feel the bite of a recession far worse.
Also in the post-covid virus recovery, Māori political aspirations will be silenced.
TVNZ should be ashamed as the public broadcaster.