Stop the Racism TVNZ

stop-the-racism-tvnzLabour MP for Mangere, Su’a William Sio has started a campaign to stop the racism at TVNZ after the comments Andrew Shaw made at the 2014 new season launch last week.

Sio wrote on Facebook:

When you have as this article points out, “A senior TVNZ executive has labelled Auckland a s*#@ hole while joking about the city’s large Polynesian population” my blood boils. I find it offensive to have a Senior Executive of a taxpayer funded Television station reflect this attitude, as I suspect it reflects an institutional racism that lurks beneath the skin of this so called Senior Executive who found an audience to reveal it to. Were the audience laughing in embarrassment, or was it a pakeha dominated senior executive audience? In this day and age, to joke about Polynesian as if to promote a negative stereotypical attitude again I find it offensive as it reveals something about this kind of NZer.

At the time, TVNZ communications manager Megan Richards suggested that the only person who had been offended in an audience of 1000 people was me and that they were surprised that anyone might find the comments offensive at all.  Now they’ve responded to the Polynesian news site PacificEyeWitness.com, claiming they’re horrified that a joke about race was interpreted as being racist.

A TVNZ Spokesperson says they are horrified that people have interpreted what Andrew Shaw said to be “taken to mean something that was never intended – that’s why Andrew has apologised to anyone who may have been offended either at the event or after.”

PacificEyeWitness also have a dig at the other media who were there and ignored the comments until they were highlighted by Throng, suggesting that the deliberate plying of alcohol was a factor.

Apparently there were a lot of media present on the night and no one there took issue with Shaw’s joke, except apparently one person who wasn’t on the guest list. But whenever there’s free alcohol being plied at these events, why would you? Especially if you and your people are not the butt of the joke and it was a largely Pakeha audience.

It appears as though the Polynesian community is pretty angry at Shaw’s offensive comments and at TVNZ for their blase and ignorance in the matter.

mark these words TVNZ. For a man with serious clout in the media broadcasting industry, Shaw’s meaning was heard loud and clear. He clearly doesn’t think much of Polynesians or Pacific people.  At least, that’s the impression people are left with. It’s hard to argue against it.

Many in the community are unwilling to let this go. TVNZ is not a private company. TVNZ is, despite operating commercially, is still a state-funded broadcaster. Shaw’s offensive joke has been widely shared throughout Pacific networks and families on social media nationally and internationally.

Among the people of the Pacific in New Zealand who have expressed their outrage online are our Pacific artists, teachers, writers and actors, international sports stars, entertainers, academics, lawyers, local board politicians, church goers and Labour’s only Pacific MP in Auckland. And boy did they vent on Facebook over the last week in the strongest possible terms, to their networks of family, friends and organisations.

TVNZ have now said they want to meet with Sio.

Su’a William Sio has raised some concerns about TVNZ that we’d like to talk directly with him about. We’ll extend an invitation to him to come together and discuss what we can learn.

Been there. Done that. They don’t learn and certainly don’t change.

About the author

Regan is one of the co-founders of Throng Media.
If they're on, I'm usually watching Game of Thrones, The Killing, 24, Battlestar Galactica, The X Factor, Survivor, Go Girls, and the NRL.
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  • K

    Did TVNZ meet with you to discuss the comments Regan?

    • Regan Cunliffe

      We’ve met with them in the past but TVNZ only do meetings for PR and self inflicted damage control. They refuse to change and address their internal and personnel issues which is entirely to their detriment and their role as a state owned entity.

      • K

        Good to know, cheers for the reply

  • David Finch

    Regan, as far as I’m aware you haven’t yet explained why you think Shaw’s comments were racist. And I haven’t seen anyone else do so either. I’ve said before.. you may have a valid point. But so far you haven’t made it with any clarity. Will someone please deconstruct the joke and tell me simply why what Shaw said was so wrong. Anyone…