Prominent online news and media agency 'Stuff' have looked to right their past wrongs in hopes of a better future today, offering an apology to Māori for the way they have treated and misrepresented them over the years.
Titled "Our Truth, Tā Mātou Pono: Stuff's day of reckoning", the apology comes in the form of a multi-part series of articles and letters that directly confronts and addresses how Stuff has contributed to stigma, marginalisation and stereotypes against Māori.
"It’s not unusual to take stock when you hit a milestone birthday, look back, reflect and consider what contribution you might have made to society. There’ll be things you’re proud of, and often some regrets." writes Stuff's Editorial Director Mark Stevens.
The surprise move comes after several months of investigation by 20 journalists and a production team, which was led by Pou Tiaki editor Carmen Parahi, into Stuff's history and treatment of all things Māori.
"Our coverage of Māori issues over the past 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori" writes Stevens.
Stuff then identifes specific examples from the past and present, where they have peddled racist attitudes and narratives, including the infamous 'Foreshore and Seabed Act'.
The news agency proposed that their 'new' key measure of success if trust, but a trust that encompasses ALL people:
"If we’ve been monocultural in our reporting – and we have – we haven’t been diverse. Therefore, we haven’t always been trustworthy. At times – notably in our distant past – we’ve been outright racist. At other times – more often in our recent history – we’ve looked through a single, Pākehā, lens."
Stuff also recogniseshe that Māori acceptance of their apology also requires a widespread commitment to change, and they've announced their plans to bring about said change.
"Our chief executive and owner has introduced the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi – partnership, participation and protection – into our company’s charter. The newsroom has committed to the principles too, in its recently published Editorial Code of Practice and Ethics, to represent all of Aotearoa New Zealand in the voices it publishes."
"We’ve partnered with Māori Television to increase Māori issues journalism. In NZ Made/Nā Nīu Tīreni we ripped open the scab of New Zealand’s history and reported the unsettling truth about how our country was made."
Other changes have also been proposed, such as introducing a Pou Tiaki section, which will "showcase Māori stories and, later, to represent minority communities too." Stuff have also began translating a small number of their stories in te reo Māori.
Stuff then closed their initial address by acknowledging their need to follow through, and commit to this change as opposed to just talking about it.
"The distance left to travel on our journey includes ensuring our journalism is for all New Zealanders and trying to repair our relationship with Māori. That will take time and effort, and from time to time we might stumble.
We will, though, continue to hold ourselves to account."
We commend Stuff for their honest apology, and look forward to seeing how they carry out these proposed changes.