TVNZ's former head of Maori programming Shane Taurima failed
to adequately disclose his political activities with the
Labour Party and was guilty of using the state broadcaster's
resources for political purposes, a review has found.
The report, released this afternoon, found no evidence of
political bias in TVNZ's programming.
The investigation into allegations of political bias, misuse
of resources and conflicts of interests was launched in
February after it was revealed that Mr Taurima and three
staff members used the TVNZ offices and resources for Labour
The report found that Mr Taurima had not disclosed his
"extensive" party political activity during his final year
with the company.
It also found that he and three other staff members used TVNZ
resources inappropriately for Labour Party political
None of those staff were still employed by TVNZ.
TVNZ chief executive Kevin Kenrick said in a statement that
their activities were "completely unacceptable".
"It's an absolute necessity for our News and Current Affairs
service to operate free from political influence.
"We already have a number of checks and balances in place to
protect the integrity of news coverage and the review panel
has identified additional steps we should take to further
strengthen our management of political conflicts of interest.
"We won't be asking our staff to tell us who they vote for.
But we think it's reasonable to ask anyone who reports, edits
or produces political content to be upfront with us if
they're a member of a political party.
"Anyone who creates news content for TVNZ should disclose any
political activity beyond passive party membership.
TVNZ board of directors chairman Wayne Walden said the board
was pleased there was no evidence to support claims of
political bias in TVNZ content.
"While there has clearly been inappropriate use of TVNZ
resources to further party political aims, this appears to
have been relatively small scale and confined to the
activities and aspirations of a single individual and his
"We welcome the opportunity presented by this report to
tighten TVNZ's protocols and raise awareness among existing
and future employees of the absolute requirement for our News
and Current Affairs division to operate free from political
influence,'' he said.
The board had full confidence in the TVNZ executive, Mr
He said the broadcaster would immediately take steps to
tighten its internal protocols in order to protect its
Mr Taurima acknowledged that it was a mistake to hold a
Labour Party meeting at TVNZ and to use TVNZ resources such
"In relation to the cost of these TVNZ resources which the
Panel determined were negligible, I have paid back the money
He said that he had been "vindicated" by the report's
findings and was now focused on securing the Labour
nomination for Tamaki Makaurau.
"The review has determined what I know to be true - that I
have always maintained a professional approach to my work and
that I have not and would never allow my political views to
affect my editorial or on screen work.
"Irrespective of my political views my job as an interviewer
was to apply the same level of scrutiny to all politicians
across the political spectrum that I interviewed.
"At no time did I use my position to influence TVNZ coverage
to benefit the Labour Party."
Mr Taurima said he had put aside his political ambitions
during his time at TVNZ, and had not determined he would
stand in Tamaki-Makaurau while he was at the company.
Mr Taurima resigned as head of Maori programmes in February
after emails leaked to 3 News showed he was still involved in
party meetings despite assuring his bosses he had given up
his political aspirations.
He has denied that his affiliation impacted on the editorial
content of his work or the programmes he had responsibility
He had attempted to become Labour's candidate in the
Ikaroa-Rawhiti by-election last year. He stood down from his
TVNZ role during the selection process but was given his job
back when his bid was unsuccessful.
Labour has repeatedly delayed its selection deadline for
Tamaki Makaurau while it waited for the TVNZ report's
Auckland teacher Will Flavell was the only other nomination
for the seat, though Maori TV broadcaster Julian Wilcox was
also believed to be considering a bid.
If Mr Wilcox was to seek the nomination, Labour would have to
waive its requirement for candidates to be a party member for
at least 12 months.