Mātauranga māori in the media

01 Feb, 2024
Mātauranga māori in the media
Business School Professor Ella Henry

Te Mana Whanonga Kaipāho | Broadcasting Standards Authority, in collaboration with Te Puni Kōkiri | Ministry of Māori Development and Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture and Heritage commissioned an AUT team to study how mātauranga Māori (generally defined as “Māori knowledge”) is understood and applied in New Zealand media.

Led by AUT Business School Professor Ella Henry (Ngātikahu ki Whangaroa, Te Rārawa, Ngāti Kuri), the research highlights the pressing need for fair representation to ensure authentic and accurate portrayals of Māori in the media, as well as to safeguardi Māori knowledge.

The research team comprised Associate Professor Christina Milligan (Ngāti Porou), from the School of Communication Studies, and research assistant Shilah Wete (Waikato Tainui).

The research draws on reviews of relevant literature, as well as the relevant statutory and regulatory environment, plus interviews with Māori media experts, and case studies from different media outlets and organisations.

One interviewee commented, “If we have good practice, it means that our people are prosperous, that our people are leading and driving those decisions, that the taonga are recognised, and held and stored for future generations, and that ultimately, we are good ancestors, working with each other in a way that is supportive of our own uniqueness.”

The report also shows case studies of successful models of good practice, including the Māoriland Charitable Trust and Te Hiku Media, highlighting the value of technology, community connections, appropriate funding, and Treaty partnership-based leadership for protecting and nurturing mātauranga Māori in the media.

In addition, the study recommends the establishment of a Māori entity (a Kāhui Mātauranga) with responsibility to work with the BSA, government agencies and Māori organisations/hapori to facilitate the protection of mātauranga Māori. These recommendations will be considered by other government entities.

At its heart, says Professor Henry, the study shows that a commitment to embracing mātauranga Māori is “essential to ensuring Māori perspectives are valued and accurately portrayed in the media landscape”. Through this approach, she says, “The broadcasting sector can foster a more inclusive, diverse and representative environment.”

As well as creating a strong evidence base to inform organisations why mātauranga Māori must be incorporated into media principles and practices, the research also provides a range of tips, tools, and applicable resources to help media appropriately and authentically embed a Māori-focused approach into their work.

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