News outlet Stuff has today issued a public apology for its portrayal of Māori after an investigation into itself.
About 20 Stuff journalists from throughout the country have worked on the project, which has examined all digital and print publications — including verticals from business to sport and even letters to the editor — from its first editions to now.
The project, Tā Mātou Pono | Our Truth, led by Pou Tiaki editor Carmen Parahi and editorial director Mark Stevens, shines a light on the way the media organisation has been racist in its past and contributed to stigma, marginalisation and stereotypes against Māori.
"It's been very difficult to know the findings of this investigation reflect on me as well, as a reporter and Māori woman," Parahi said in a statement this morning.
"One of the reasons for doing this is so my kids don’t have to carry the pain we, as Māori, have carried for so long because of the way we’ve been portrayed in the media over three centuries.
"This day of reckoning is a long time coming and the beginning of better representation in our reporting of all people in Aotearoa New Zealand."
Tears streamed down Parahi's face during an emotional discussion with TVNZ1's Breakfast host Jenny-May Clarkson about the project this morning.
"People don't understand that the way we've been portrayed for so long has really impacted on our lives, generationally as well," she said.
Parahi got into journalism to give Māori a voice, make amends and reblance some of the "racist and horrible" content of the past. It took 20 years, but she told Breakfast she was pleased Stuff had owned up and said sorry.
An an editorial on Stuff this morning, Stevens published an apology. On Breakfast today, he challenged other media outlets to do the same.
"Our coverage of Māori issues over the last 160 years ranged from racist to blinkered. Seldom was it fair or balanced in terms of representing Māori," he said.
"We are sorry. But apologies are hollow without a commitment to do better in the future.
"The distance left to travel on our journey includes ongoing consultation and engagement, 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."