Māori Television backs down over dropping 'Maori' from name

Māori Television in 2004 (Getty)
Māori Television in 2004 (Getty)

Māori Television has made a backdown on a potential name change as part of a review into the company's brand.

The possibility of a name change for the broadcaster was first raised in a media report this week. The article cited Māori Television spokeswomen Lana Simmons-Donaldson as saying no decisions had been made with regard to the channel's name or whether the word 'Māori' might be dropped from it.  

In a statement, she said the review was part of the company's broader marketing work programme to ensure brand and content remain relevant. 

Newshub contacted Māori Television earlier this week, seeking clarity around a possible name change. The following statement was release by Ms Simmons-Donaldson: "The brand review work programme is ongoing and no decisions have been made with regard to the current brand including the name."

Translation - everything is on the review table.

At no point did Māori Television rule out the idea as gossip or speculation. Requests to interview chief executive Paora Maxwell and board chairman Georgina te Heuheu were declined. 

Public outcry was swift, with many taking to social media to criticise any potential move to change the Māori Television name.

Now, in an about turn, Māori Television has released a black-and-white statement refuting media reports of a name change.

Mr Maxwell even fronted in an interview for Māori Television news programme, Kawe Kōrero. He labelled media reports as "gossip" and wondered where the information came from.

If he is looking for someone to blame, he need not look far. Māori Television could have shut this down in one statement: no name change for Whakaata Māori.

Instead it fumbled and dropped the ball, the people cried foul and the company went into defence mode.

Final play - backdown.