TVNZ and Tame Iti

I watched a very strident Mark Sainsbury on Close Up tonight defending himself and his programme over the giving of petrol vouchers and motel accommodation to Tame Iti and his extended family.

Sainsbury got hot under the collar about it – in fact I’ve never seen him so defensive, or willing to do battle. At least his energy over this matter was a refreshing change from his normal sleepy and incoherent demeanour.

But, the issue still remains. Should TVNZ have stumped up with these vouchers and accommodation.

The facts are these, admitted on air by Toi Iti (Tame’s son).

  • The family had always intended coming to Waitangi for the celebrations
  • Tame Iti had always intended coming to Waitangi for the celebrations.

The question to ask is:

  • Why did TVNZ need to pay them petrol money and offer them accommodation if they were coming money or not?

It makes a mockery of TVNZ and Mark Sainsbury’s protestations. Reading between the lines I would think that TVNZ wanted to ensure that Tame Iti and his whanau were at Waitangi in the hope that they would bring some controversy with them and hand them an exclusive story.

As it was all we got was a face to face on the Waitangi lawn with Toi Iti and his wife, rekindling the romantic memories of when they first met at Waitangi eight years ago. No need to pay petrol, or accommodation for that.

Sorry Mark…the Iti whanau got a free trip – you got diddly squat!