Labour MP Tāmati Coffey hits out at NZ media for calling Taika Waititi a 'Kiwi' filmmaker

Labour MP Tāmati Coffey is condemning New Zealand media for what he has described as "institutional racism" following two news stories involving Māori filmmakers. 

Coffey, MP for Waiariki, wrote a Facebook post comparing two stories he had seen covered in the news: Māori film director Taika Waititi winning an Academy Award and Māori filmmaker Renae Maihi's court case with Sir Bob Jones. 

Coffey noticed how in some news stories Waititi is described as a 'Kiwi filmmaker' while Maihi is described as a 'Māori filmmaker'. He suggested that because the story about Waititi is positive, he was "escalated to Kiwi". 

"Taika Waititi wins Oscar. 'Kiwi filmmaker success' say the headlines. Not Māori filmmaker success," Coffey wrote in his Facebook post. 

"Renae Maihi goes to court to face off with 'Sir' Bob Jones. She isn't described as a kiwi filmmaker. She is described as a Māori filmmaker. Because it's a negative story.

"What's the deal, media? I've always observed when negative stories involving Māori, call the person out for being Māori. If the individual attains success, Māori are escalated to 'Kiwi'. Because it's a positive story."

Coffey published the post with the hashtags #INSTITUTIONAL #RACISM. 

Both Newshub and 1 News described Waititi as a 'Kiwi filmmaker' in their opening 6pm segments, while Maihi was described as a 'Maori filmmaker'. 

1 News presenters said Waititi is the "first Māori to win an Oscar and the first indigenous filmmaker ever nominated in that category."

However, Ngāi Tahu sound engineer Hammond Peek won an Oscar in 2003 and 2005 for Best Sound Mixing for the third Lord of the Rings film The Return of the King and King Kong.

An NZME article about Maihi described her as a 'filmmaker' while a Stuff article described her as a 'film writer and director'.   

As for Waititi, an NZME article described him as a 'New Zealand actor and filmmaker' while a Stuff article described him as a 'Kiwi'. 

The Stuff article also mentioned that Waititi is "thought to be the second Māori, and first person from Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, to win an Oscar".   

Waititi won an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay on Monday for his anti-hate satire film Jojo Rabbit and used his acceptance speech to inspire indigenous kids. 

In 2018, the filmmaker caused a stir by describing New Zealand in an interview as "a racist place", saying he'd been racially profiled and that locals refuse to pronounce Māori names properly. 

Maihi is in the news because she has been accused of defamation by Sir Bob Jones. 

Sir Bob is suing the filmmaker after she delivered a petition to Parliament calling for him to lose his knighthood for controversial comments he made about Māori in a National Business Review column in 2018.  

Coffey said in his Facebook post the "first step to stomping out racism, is awareness".