Article by Brittney Deguara from Stuff.
The Media Council has refused to hear a complaint about Stuff’s use of “Kia Ora, Aotearoa”, saying it is acceptable and doesn’t breach any principles.
The move comes as the Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA), which upholds standards on radio and television, publicly announced it would no longer consider complaints about the use of te reo Māori.
The Media Council resolves complaints regarding newspapers and magazines and their associated websites. Stuff reader Heather Morris made a complaint to the council citing deep offence to the greeting atop the page. She said the greeting should be put in English first as that’s the language of the majority.
Morris added there was no such island as “Aotearoa” in any atlas she had seen.
In its response, the Media Council explained te reo Māori is one of the official languages of New Zealand, and the phrase “Kia ora” and name “Aotearoa” are “widely used”.
The Stuff content which received a complaint for the use of te reo.
“‘Aotearoa’ is widely used in New Zealand as the alternative name of this country, and in our assessment is accepted as such by most New Zealanders.
“Furthermore the greeting complained [Kia ora] about is widely used and widely understood by most inhabitants of these islands. They need no translation.”
The council said the use of te reo Māori words in media was at the discretion of individual news organisations.
The BSA, in its comments regarding complaints, said te reo Māori was an official New Zealand language and noted its use was protected and promoted by existing law.
Māori Language Commissioner, Professor Rawinia Higgins, welcomed the council’s ruling by saying: “Haere ra Heather” (Goodbye Heather), a reference to Vodafone CEO Jason Paris’ recent takedown of a customer with a similar complaint.
Higgins said the commission is proud to work alongside Stuff to incorporate te reo Māori across its website.
“This is how we come together to learn from the past, change what we do and plan for a better future for our children.
“People like Heather are part of a minority that is growing smaller: we know more than 8 in 10 Kiwis see te reo as something to be proud of as it is part of their identity as a New Zealander.”
Stuff began translating some of its news stories into te reo Māori in July last year as a way to help normalise the language.
Editor-in-chief Patrick Crewdson said: “Te reo Māori is a taonga, and we consider it incumbent on Stuff as a leading media organisation to contribute to the language’s revitalisation.”