Ali Mau in dark over Seven Sharp sacking

TVNZ's Seven Sharp team has already lost Greg Boyed (far left) and Ali Mau. Jesse Mulligan is the...
TVNZ's Seven Sharp team has already lost Greg Boyed (far left) and Ali Mau. Jesse Mulligan is the only original host left.
Ali Mau says she had no clue that she was about to be dumped from Seven Sharp.

She said the show had turned out to be very different from what was pitched to her, and she wouldn't have left her job at Fair Go had she known.

The 48-year-old learned from the Herald last week that TVNZ had secret plans to change the presenting line-up of its 7pm "infotainment" show.

At that time, Mau had said she was returning to the programme on January 20 and was loyal and committed to the Seven Sharp team, who had turned down job offers from other media organisations.

"I had not been given any clue that TVNZ was planning a major change of presenting staff, so what I told you last week was not untruthful," Mau told the Weekend Herald yesterday.

"I'm fortunate to have had many approaches for different work from time to time, and when the path ahead became clear this week, I was able to jump at the opportunity that suited me best."

That opportunity is a move to rival MediaWorks, where Mau will join Willie Jackson on RadioLive in a new early-afternoon programme.

Seven Sharp has been heavily criticised since its inception, and Mau said the show was different from the one she signed up for.

"When I was recruited for Seven Sharp last November, the programme pitched to me was quite different from the one that eventuated.

"The management at that time had a vision that I was excited about, or I never would have left the job at Fair Go, which I loved.

"I wanted to stick it out for at least a year, as it takes time for a new show to develop. But I miss working as a journalist in news, so I had started to think about making a change."

TVNZ executives were also looking at making changes. Insiders had told the Herald that plans were being made to change the presenting line-up to include Mike Hosking, Toni Street and Jesse Mulligan. Mau was unaware.

She is happy she made the right decision to leave the company on her terms. While RadioLive had been talking in general terms with Mau, the opportunity fell into place last week quite quickly.

"Loyalty is very important to me," she said. "And until I'd made the final decision to leave Seven Sharp, it was important to me not to say anything that would upset or be disrespectful to my colleagues or our viewers.

"Sometimes in life you have to be pragmatic, especially when you have a family to feed."

The transition from primetime television to talkback radio would be a big challenge the mother of two said she would relish.

"Above anything else ... the new job will be fantastic for me and my family.

"My kids (teenagers Paris and Joel) have been saying all year that they want me home more, and I know I've been missing out too.

"Now I'll be able to attend all the basketball and dance trainings, speech and prizegiving nights that an 8pm finish doesn't allow."

RadioLive general manager Jana Rangooni said the company head-hunted Mau because of her expertise in news and current affairs.

"Since Duncan Garner and Sean Plunket arrived at RadioLive, I have been focused on targeting people in the news and current affairs environment who are journalists at heart, but also have strong opinions and can tell a good story, or have a good sense of humour," she said.

"Ali is one of a handful of people who I think has all that in bucket loads."

Mau said she was the envy of many colleagues at TVNZ because of her move to MediaWorks.

"The corporate culture at MediaWorks, and the way they treat their staff, is the stuff of legend in our industry ... I was even congratulated by a colleague for 'making it over the wall'."

- Rachel Glucina

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