RNZ board member Jason Ake doubles down with new comments on Kiri Allan scandal, despite Hipkins' backlash


An RNZ board member is doubling down on public commentary about Kiri Allan, despite the Prime Minister describing his initial comments as inappropriate.

Jason Ake - who joined the board this month - published a Facebook post yesterday, questioning why Kiri Allan was cleared to return to Parliament.

The former journalist also hit out at some of the reaction to her arrest and resignation, saying the sharks were circling while there was blood in the water.

"When there's blood in the water the sharks circle and they're more than happy to digest every last morsel and watch the bones sink to the depths. It is a blood sport," he said.

Prime Minister Chris Hipkins this morning told RNZ it was not appropriate for Ake to share his political opinions, given his role on the board of a Crown entity.

RNZ's chair Jim Mather reminded Ake he must avoid certain political activities in his new role, saying he would discuss the matter with him directly when back from an overseas trip at the end of the week.

Ake has this afternoon published a new post, saying events like Allan's resignation elevate the opportunity for Māori to have conversations about mental health.

"We need to grab those opportunities because they encourage public discourse especially among our whānau. Mental health and well-being is the silent killer and a swathe of Māori journos got it immediately."

Māori were disproportionately affected by mental health issues, he said.

"Yes we live longer but we continue to lag behind Pākehās. That's the real crime here and much of it is borne out of this ideological premise that we as Māori must conform.

"That's the conversation we had in our whare last night with our kids. We probably would not have had that yarn if we were not jabbed by recent events. I wonder how many other Māori households had that discussion or at least raised their collective awareness."

This morning Broadcasting Minister Willie Jackson said Ake had always been a vocal person and this would need to stop if he was to remain an RNZ board member.

"He will pull back though, because as I said the chair's been in touch and he's going to have to if he wants to stay a board member there."

This afternoon Allan announced she would not seek re-election for the East Coast electorate and apologised, saying she had let her electorate and the Labour Party down and all those who relied on her.