Newshub presenters face uncertain future

Warner Bros Discovery made the shock announcement this morning that Newshub is set to close at the end of June. Despite stating they will look to ‘co-fund local news’, the closure will affect some of New Zealand’s most high-profile and award-winning journalists - including Ryan Bridge, Samantha Hayes, Mike McRoberts and Patrick Gower - who are not only household names but highly respected within the industry. The decision leaves many wondering about the state of local news media.

News broke this morning that Newshub, one of New Zealand’s biggest news providers, will shut down at the end of June.

The announcement reportedly came during a meeting held by the brand’s parent company, Warner Bros Discovery, leaving staff “devastated”. Despite stating they will look to co-fund local news, it was revealed in the meeting that the restructuring could affect 75 per cent of staff at Three and which would encompass the advertising, marketing and sales departments as well as the newsroom.

One source has suggested to the Herald that up to 350 people work at Warner Bros Discovery in New Zealand, with about 200 understood to be devoted to news. A slimmed-down company might see only 50 staff remain.

With the company home to some of New Zealand’s most well-known and respected journalists and presenters, the closure of Newshub could see a devastating blow to local media.

Patrick Gower. Photo: LinkedIn
Patrick Gower. Photo: LinkedIn
Patrick Gower

Award-winning journalist Gower has worked with Warner Bros Discovery for many years now, filling many different roles, including being Newshub’s political editor for six years.

After stepping down from the role at the end of 2017, he worked as a national correspondent for the news outlet before focusing his energy on a hard-hitting, and popular, documentary series, Patrick Gower: On...

The series was aimed at addressing social issues and helping Kiwis. Some of the topics he has covered include Patrick Gower: On Booze, Patrick Gower: On P and Patrick Gower: On All The Drugs.

In 2023, he released his self-titled weekly current affairs show, Paddy Gower Has Issues, which saw him win Best Presenter: News and Current Affairs for his work across Newshub Live at 6pmPaddy Gower Has Issues, AMThe Project NZ and Paddy Gower On... at the 2023 NZTV Awards.

Elsewhere in 2020, he won a Voyager award for best individual investigation following his “confronting and painstaking” investigation into white supremacy after the 2019 Christchurch terror attack.

It’s understood Gower’s show Paddy Gower Has Issues will close under the proposal, but that his documentaries would survive with any approved NZ on Air funding.

Ryan Bridge

It was announced last year, following the discontinuation of The Project, that the former AM co-host Bridge, 36, would take over the 7pm slot with a new show. Questions were raised last month after Warner Bros Discovery failed to provide an exact start date for the production.

Inside sources told the Herald it should have been on air by now before adding that it was scheduled to start in April and - as late as last week - June. Now, the future of the show remains unclear. If it receives funding, there is a possibility it could still air on Three and ThreeNow.

Bridge is a well-known face in the journalism industry, covering many important stories such as climate change and Colombian trade deals. For the past two years, he has been nominated at the NZ TV Awards for Best Presenter - News and Current Affairs (2022) and TV Personality of the Year (2023).

Upon leaving the grim meeting this morning, Bridge told journalists they are all thinking of their colleagues at the moment and “we’re going to go and have a drink”.

Samantha Hayes. Photo: Newshub
Samantha Hayes. Photo: Newshub
Samantha Hayes

Hayes - the face of Newshub Live at 6pm alongside Mike McRoberts - is a highly respected journalist in the industry, having spent more than 10 years working her way up the ranks.

Fronting a range of shows during her career to date, including Newshub Late3rd DegreeNightline and Firstline, the 39-year-old has proven she can do it all. Covering difficult stories on both the Mongrel Mob and Black Power gangs, she documented her time in Antarctica’s mountains at -30C, co-hosted Newshub’s US Election Special: America Decides in 2016 and 2020, as well as more light-hearted stories such as joining Kiwi star Lorde in the music studio.

Today’s news comes after a bumpy 12 months for the co-anchor, who recently announced she has separated from her partner, Jeroen Blaauw. Speaking to Woman’s Weekly in January, she told the outlet that the dust is only just beginning to settle.

It remains unclear what the closure of Newshub means for Hayes.

Mike McRoberts

McRoberts currently co-anchors Newshub Live at 6pm with Hayes, however his career spans decades and includes many awards including six NZ TV Awards, mostly for Best Presenter - News and Current Affairs.

The 58-year-old has had a vast career covering almost all topics including sports, Māori affairs, current affairs and news presenting. John Campbell and Hilary Barry are just some of the huge names the presenter has worked alongside during his career.

McRoberts is known as a determined and passionate journalist in the game, often securing huge scoops - including an interview with warlord Harold Keke in a banana boat in the Soloman Islands just three weeks before the warlord gave himself up. Elsewhere, he has put his life in danger for the sake of a story. An example of this was following the 9/11 attacks when he was on the ground in Peshawar, Pakistan, as bombs fell and riots began. Thankfully, he and his team got out unharmed.

It remains unclear what the closure of Newshub means for McRoberts. However, upon leaving the meeting, he described the news as “heartbreaking”.

He added: “We are a pretty good newsroom, if we can’t make it work, who can?”

Melissa Chan-Green. Photo: Newshub
Melissa Chan-Green. Photo: Newshub
Melissa Chan-Green

Chan-Green won a Voyager award in 2019 for Best Coverage of a Major News Event: Newshub - Royal Tour and has since gone on to become a respected name in New Zealand journalism.

Prior to becoming a regular co-host on Three’s AM Show, the 40-year-old mother of two had earned her keep in the industry by travelling all around the world to tell stories. As well as covering the Arab Spring uprisings and the funeral of Nelson Mandela, Chan-Green has taken great interest in royal news and has dabbled in sports reporting, covering multiple Olympic and Commonwealth Games, as well as Rugby World Cups.

It has not yet been confirmed whether AM will continue past June.

Oriini Kaipara

Kaipara made headlines worldwide after becoming the first female anchor to a mainstream TV programme with a moko kauae (a traditional chin tattoo worn by Māori women).

She was already headed to the New Zealand Olympic Committee in a new role as pouwhiringa Māori cultural lead, helping guide the organisation, teams and athletes with her specialist reo, tikanga and wairua skills but is currently off air after hitting her head on concrete, resulting in a concussion late last year.

The Newshub Live at 11.30am and Newshub Live at 4.30pm presenter has spent her career revitalisating te reo and Māori customs.

In 2021, she made the move from TVNZ to Newshub.

Kaipara, 40, who is of Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Rangitihi and Ngāi Tūhoe descent, has had an impressive journalism career of nearly two decades, with years of experience reporting on Māori affairs. In 2018, she won a Voyager award for Māori Affairs Reporter of the Year and was nominated for Best Presenter: News And Current Affairs at the NZTV Awards in 2022.

By Lillie Rohan