Fears Māori history will be used in overseas ads after TVNZ's Getty deal

A move by TVNZ to sell archival footage through Getty Images has some Māori concerned about the use of historical footage.

TVNZ says no footage from Māori programmes is being sold overseas, but some who work in film and television want a permanent ban on international use and more say over the future of these important stories.

Hineani Melbourne has worked in film and television telling Māori stories for more than 30 years. Elders interviewed for shows she worked on like Waka Huia were reluctant to be interviewed.

"It wasn't that they didn't want to pass on their knowledge, what they were worried about was the sale of their footage after they were gone."

She's worried promises made to those kaumātua could be broken.

Much of the archival vision is held in TVNZ archives. Last year, TVNZ signed a deal with Getty Images to act as a 'shop front' to sell short videos from its archives.

It's sparked fears from Māori in the industry that historical vision could be sold and used out of context in overseas commercials.

"Where is the protection for the footage?" Ms Melbourne says. "We're saying 'TVNZ, thank you very much for looking after the footage, but it doesn't belong to you'. We need to set up a system where that footage is protected for future generations."

Film director Heperi Mita says it also raises broader concerns about New Zealand filmmakers getting access to important archival vision to tell our stories.

He recently made a film about his mother, renowned film-maker Merata Mita, and had to pay big money for images of her.

"Of course it concerns me personally, but I think it is of greater concern to the entire nation because that's our history," he says.

"How we manage that history, how that is sold and commodified, I think should be a concern to everybody."

TVNZ says Māori programmes like Waka Huia and Koha have never been offered for sale to overseas buyers. It accepts discussions with the Māori screen industry should have started earlier, but it says it takes its role as guardian of the vision seriously and strong safeguards are in place.

Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki doesn't accept that.

"For me to trust that statement would be to say it's okay in three months' time or six months' time or 12 months' time, you can do whatever you want. My fear is about the content in the market place."

The Māori Council plans to raise the issue with Winston Peters and Nanaia Mahuta this week, and Mr Tukaki says the fact Māori have little say over the use of archival vision could be a breach of the Treaty.


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