New Zealand’s largest media publisher, Stuff, has publicly apologized for the way it has portrayed Māori people, after an internal investigation uncovered evidence of “racism and marginalisation” in its representation of the country’s Indigenous people.
Stuff’s Editorial Director, Mark Stevens, said the company’s coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years “ranged from racist to blinkered,” and had remained “monocultural” even in the present day.
“Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori,” Stevens wrote in an editorial published Monday. “Sorry to Māori. The monocultural aspects of our journalism have not served Aotearoa New Zealand well,” he wrote.
Stuff owns New Zealand’s largest news website, as well as numerous regional and community titles.
As part of the “Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono” investigation, around 20 journalists from the publication scrutinized the company’s portrayal and representation of Māori in its print and digital publications.
Articles from the “distant past” were “outright racist” and news from the 1800s described Māori as an “inferior race” – but even in recent history, the publication had looked through a “single, Pākehā (white) lens,” Stevens wrote.
Analysis, Stevens wrote, showed that “our language often split New Zealand into two – Kiwis and Māori. Two separate groups, us and them.”
The company’s chief executive, Sinead Boucher, said the investigation was not an exercise in political correctness or being “woke.”
“If you think the job of the news media, in our company and others, is to hold the powerful to account, well, we are the powerful,” Boucher said.
The company said it has released a new charter, which Boucher said would work on “redressing wrongs and to doing better in future ways that will help foster trust in our work, deeper relationships with Māori and better representation of contemporary Aotearoa (New Zealand).”
“Apologies are hollow without a commitment to change, to do better in the future. We’ve begun that journey, with much distance to travel,” Stevens wrote.
“People don’t understand that the way we’ve been portrayed for so long has really impacted on our lives,” Carmen Parahi, editor of Stuff’s Pou Tiaki section, who led the project, said in a televised interview with 1News.