Former colleague shares lewd email sent by Kamahl Santamaria, says he tried to kiss her without consent

  • 31/05/2022
Kamahl Santamaria on TVNZ's Breakfast.
Kamahl Santamaria. Photo credit: TVNZ

A former colleague of Kamahl Santamaria has alleged he tried to kiss her without consent while they both worked at Al Jazeera in Qatar and shared an inappropriate email she says he sent her.

The news presenter recently abruptly left his role as TVNZ Breakfast host amid reports of inappropriate behaviour there.

In the email, which has been seen by Newshub, Santamaria tells his former co-worker: "There is no more attractive outfit on a woman than the white blouse/black skirt combo and YOU are making it work, baby."

"Between you and [another female colleague], I may just combust!" 

The email's subject line is "At the risk of embarrassing you", and it ends with "xxx".

The message was sent in conjunction with several instances of unwanted physical advances in the workplace, its recipient said.

Newshub understands Santamaria's "creepy, touchy-feely" reputation was well known and talked about among female staff members at Al Jazeera.

Santamaria replaced John Campbell on Breakfast this year but left the role after around a month.

TVNZ staff were reportedly unhappy with the process of his hiring. Paul Yurisich, the state-owned broadcaster's current Head of News and Current Affairs, also previously worked at Al Jazeera as an executive producer.

The woman who received the email at Al Jazeera told Newshub she eventually complained to management about Santamaria's behaviour. While she isn't aware what the consequences were, she said he subsequently ceased harassing her and instead ignored her in the workplace.

At the time she made her complaint, Yurisich did not work at Al Jazeera.

When asked about Santamaria's exit, TVNZ said it doesn't comment on individual employment matters.

On Monday, Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson commented on the situation.

"I think you would be rightly concerned if politicians were deeply involved in the employment of those who are involved in news media and journalism at a State sector level," he said on Monday. 

"What I can say is that Government has expectations on Television New Zealand as a State-owned company that they will follow the right processes when it comes to recruitment, and I know that Minister Faafoi has sought an assurance from the TVNZ board that the right processes were followed in this case."