GUEST BLOG: John Tamihere – Stuff’s apology to Māori


The editorial stand taken by Stuff over future Māori issues and its historic Māori reporting must be applauded and acknowledged.

It is never too late to do the right thing, and the leadership shown by Sinead Boucher – owner and CEO of Stuff – is both outstanding and courageous.

In this day of digital, it’s all about the clicks. In July Sinead withheld all advertising on the Facebook platform. It reassessed its relationship with Facebook – where they had just under 1 million followers – and Instagram where it had 134k followers – after the free speech v right to express an opinion debate raged.

That decision was based on conscience and not dollars.

At the time it was described as foolhardy and fanciful.

That’s why Sinead’s new editorial direction and apology to Māori must be admired and encouraged.

“Our coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori,” Stuff wrote as part of a five-page editorial.

As a Māori and as a community leader, I am interviewed a lot. When I see the finished article or TV interview, it is often skewed to portray Māori in a bad light. That’s how most media view Māori – negative statistics, always wanting handouts.

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You are portrayed as ill-disciplined, erratic, a maverick, untrustworthy in the NZ Herald and Talkback ZB.

The reason for that portrayal is because the editorial lens overseeing the news flow is neither Māori nor a fair assessment of an issue.

So I salute Stuff for this bold editorial stance, but on the other hand, I am frustrated and tired of the privilege that allows for such self-reflection because while it’s wonderful to make this historic apology for the appalling Urewera terror raids coverage, the inflammatory Foreshore and Seabed coverage and early formative settler editorials calling on Māori to die or be assimilated aside, it is the current injustice that befalls Māori because of those historic wrongs against us that bites most in the community I represent.

Homelessness, poor health services, inequality, and the housing crisis, the ongoing poverty: These are where focus from people with platforms must turn if they are serious about combating those historic cultural wounds.

Otherwise, this is a navel-gazing exercise to alleviate guilt and isn’t part of the solution.

Stuff will no doubt be described as woke and PC media gone mad and feed the feral talkback switchboards for days. But today let’s congratulate Sinead and her Stuff colleagues who have put their own Pou in the ground and will start rewriting Māori history and addressing real Māori issues in a new light.

Shine the light on racism in all its sophisticated forms – call it out.



  1. John, Can I just say that some MSM distort all interviewing, where they can, to suit their own purposes. I had some media training with a Qantas Award winning journalist – then one of her specific examples happened to me, at the hands of a Dominion reporter, trying to put words into my mouth. Not a huge distortion, but one which would have misrepresented the views of the people I spoke for. I was able to provide my own words. In retrospect, I should have called the reporter out, but that could have been counter productive. They may talk about ‘human interest’ when in fact they are trying to shape the story in their own, perhaps even selfish, interest – like scoring a media award – a new job. It’s a universal, and of course, dishonest.

  2. An excellent piece

    THIS is so true.
    it is the current injustice that befalls Māori because of those historic wrongs against us that bites most in the community I represent.

  3. Kia ora John. I agree strongly with you on this, and disagree with those who do not support Stuff’s move, for whatever reason. The Christchurch Press, my local stuff newspaper, has been a racist little paper forever. I have still subscribed, if only for the crossword pages (and, as I get older, the death notices!). Now, I am looking forward to a paper that is, in stance, hopefully anti-racist. I did think, though, about how many times that Stuff papers have stoked and confirmed racism against Maori over the years. Redressing this with good quality news may take a generation, but I guess they have to start somewhere. Kia kaha, e hoa.

    • During the ’81 tour times Mickey we would have said to you ‘paint him black and send him back’. You have clearly never stood in the shoes of anyone of colour.

      • Oh contraire, Michal. Politely, I have (been in similar shoes).

        In the shoes of a local “Aotearoan” community resident, of Caucasian descent, who’d been stereotyped from childhood as being some “wasteful” product supporting reportedly persecutorial (former) imperialists who’d apparently “stolen” Maui and his hapuka from Maori, simply because of my skin colouur and some historic family ties to the UK.

        Orakei, in it’s own right was a great intro.

        Thank’s to whoever/whatever that I’ve a sufficient enough sense of humour to reflect, seeing both the tragedy and the comedy, and (I believe) a sufficient amount of balance and perspective NOT to let my nastier life experiences turn me in to a racist.

        In a funny way, I don’t see that my feelings were or are much different to many Maori who expressed anger at being having been bundled up by the system and thrown into the same package/packaging as new arrival Paciifc Islanders who, as newer residents, initially created a lot of chaos for all New Zealanders. Package specific; Maori & Pacific Island Affairs.

        I certainly don’t seek sympathy from my quarter.

        Please don’t mis-read too deeply into a post.

        JT was quietly reminded on more than one occasion that the “weoponizing” of racial dissent was not a wise tool to be repeatedly misapplying, but that it had certainly been both effective and useful during the formative stages of the Maori renaissance project.

        He knows.

        Thank for your post just the same Michal, and for giving me the opportunity for rebut.

  4. Yes that’s right, as Alan Martin used to say, “It’s the putting right that counts.” Another Martin, John Martin, wrote a very interesting book a while back called Honouring the Contract,, which was about what he called the “settler contract” whereby British and European immigrants would be guaranteed affordable housing and full employment. The settler contract lasted up until the 1980s, whereupon somebody noticed that the neck that wore the blue collar was often brown and that many settlers to urban New Zealand were now coming from the Islands and the backblocks to which mōrehu Māori had once been expelled. At which point, the settler contract was promptly torn up and everybody was told to fend for themselves. I’m going to be writing something about this myself BTW.

  5. Kia pai tena John

    A good article. You should get Rawiri or Debbie to congratulate Stuff for their stance in Parliament and to show up those other anti-Maori biased media outfits especially the talkback hosts and their feral hillbilly listeners/callers. Give them your article above to get some good sound bites.

  6. Great article John. Fantastic.

    You are the man, all right. Visionary, and that is putting it lightly. And you’ve said it all.

    Maori, persecuted for centuries and finally the truth has outed, and those persecuting whiteys and their turncoat brown skin traitors are now running for the hills.

    I see that one of the commentators on this page never even SEEMED to reply/rebut in relation to his first post, to be outed as a racist by one of your admirers. Your readers can only presume that he had never even tried, and that he is running for the hills also, with the rest of them.

    In fact. No rebut nor explanation as to why that post was made in any case. We don’t need fact nor explanation from THEM or any like them.

    Maybe the daily blog server should just reject any such attempt because their sort of balance is surely NOT needed on this site.

    Good on y’ man. Keep the movement solid. Never say die to their centuries long persecution agenda!

    (Hope this one pleases you, sires).

    • Dangerous comment Michal McNaughton referring to THEM…
      I’m sure the late Dr Goebles, The old apartheid South African regime would be proud of you for referring to any opposition and people that didn’t fit into there/your political/racial way of thinking by calling people THEM.
      Makes it easier I guess to do what needs to be done with THEM.

      • Kindly, wooly bugger (and I suspect that you may have picked this up already), it appears that “Michal McNaughton” may have been taking an opportunity to poke a bit of fun at JohnTee and attempt to take the piss out.

        I suspect also that JT is more likely than not, seasoned enough not to have taken it too seriously, if at all.

        Despite loves and hates, likes and dislikes by various readers in relation to various guests and their reported history or just rumour, they do provide valuable insight, and at least by the alternative viewpoints expressed by them, they do make for being recognized as interesting characters.

        Maori grievances which are still valid? Yes, of course. But personally, I believe that John Tamihere appears to have gotten himself swept away (and possibly become a little unbalanced psychologically) with much of this current “persecution” hype, which many both on-shore and off-shore attempt to lather over Aotearoa at a cost to NZ residents.

        These players having their own profit agenda to serve in the process (positional, emotional or simply the bottom line $$$).

        It was this to which I referred in my original post.

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