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.
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.