Shane Taurima, head of TVNZ's Maori and Pacific unit,
resigned last night after it was revealed he facilitated a
discussion about the Maori vote at a Labour hui held at
TVNZ. Photo / NZ Herald
It was not a "good look" for the country's state
broadcaster to have some of its staff performing Labour Party
business but it did not mean the station as a whole was biased,
Prime Minister John Key said today.
TVNZ executive Shane Taurima resigned after revelations last
night that he took part in a Labour Party hui and that at
least one Labour meeting was held at the TVNZ building.
3News reported last night that TVNZ offices were used to host
a meeting of Labour's Tamaki Makaurau branch last year.
TVNZ staff emails were also used to organise a subsequent hui
in January this year which Labour leader David Cunliffe and
several others MPs attended.
Mr Taurima, the head of TVNZ's Maori and Pacific unit, had
acted as a facilitator in a discussion about the Maori vote
at that January hui and three other TVNZ staff were also
He had put his name forward to be Labour's candidate in the
Ikaroa-Rawhiti byelection last year but was beaten by Meka
Whaitiri. Mr Taurima stood down from his TVNZ role during the
selection, but was given the job back afterwards.
Mr Key told TV3's Firstline programme today there was a risk
the station looked biased, even though he did not believe
that was the case.
"They'll have to have a bit of a look and they'll have to
work out who knew and who approved that."
Mr Key said he was surprised Mr Cunliffe did not think it was
odd to be going to a political meeting held at the TVNZ
There would not need to be a "witchhunt" with an inquiry, but
the matter should be investigated, he said.
"It's a bad look for the broadcaster, it will embarrass them.
"It was important for everybody in the public service to be
careful, Mr Key said.
"People hold political views in the public service and that's
absolutely totally acceptable and they vote in all sorts of
different directions, as you'd expect.
"But obviously there's a very clear line...this will just be
embarrassing for Television New Zealand and they'll want to
make sure they get to the bottom of it.''
- Taurima releases statement:
Mr Taurima released a statement this morning that said he
fully accepted that some of his actions in supporting the
Labour Party might be seen to have crossed the line and he
"I categorically deny that my political affiliations have had
any influence on any editorial decision that I have made
during this time or at any time in the more than 12 years
that I have been honoured to work in many roles at TVNZ.
"However, questions have been raised that have brought into
question the integrity of the crucial work of my colleagues
at TVNZ. This is unfair and unacceptable and as a result I
He denied that other staff members in his former unit were
"They are not activists. They are passionate friends and
people that I love and respect who committed to provide some
support to me. They are wonderful people whose enthusiasm led
to some poorly considered decisions. Decisions that were not
to benefit them individually.''
Mr Taurima said he had made no decisions about his future and
would be making no further comment at this time.
"I apologise again for any damage or upset that my actions
may have caused.''
- TVNZ head of news: It reflects badly on us:
TVNZ head of news John Gillespie said Mr Taurima had been
upfront that he was considering standing for Labour in Tamaki
Makaurau at the next election and had briefed his bosses last
However, he said TVNZ had not known of Mr Taurima's
involvement in the January hui or about the use of TVNZ
offices to hold a Labour Party meeting.
Mr Gillespie told Radio New Zealand the station was
investigating the incident.
"This goes to the heart of our editorial values and
independence and it's something that we just can't abide
Mr Taurima resigned after Mr Gillespie became aware of what
had been going on, he said.
When he contacted Mr Taurima yesterday afternoon, Mr Taurima
told Mr Gillespie he was not aware other staff members in his
unit had been arranging meetings for the Labour Party
involving the Tamaki Makaurau electorate.
Mr Gillespie said he believed him, even though Mr Taurima was
scheduled to speak at one of those meetings.
"The reason he has resigned was because of the event he took
part in last month and that was an unfortunate oversight by
Shane and he would say that was a huge lapse of judgement and
it absolutely was.''
Mr Gillespie said that at no time did staff raise concerns
about the broadcaster's offices being used for Labour Party
business, but they should have.
The events reflected badly on the whole of TVNZ, he said.
"I have to say that we are gutted by that...we take our
editorial independence incredibly seriously - it's a
cornerstone of what we do here everyday, it always will be a
cornerstone of what we do here everyday.
"These people have nailed their political colours to a TVNZ
mast. It is untenable.''
He said an investigation would look into whether there were
any other anomalies.