Police's high editorial control over Police Ten 7 'absolutely concerning' - Rawiri Waititi

Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi says the editorial control police have over reality show Police Ten 7 is "absolutely concerning".

He's referring to the contract between production company Screentime and Police Ten 7 that former police detective Tim McKinnel received after writing to police national headquarters last year. The partially redacted contract he received in response said: "The police will preview programme content before screening and the producer shall amend, edit the programme to accord with any concerns expressed by police regarding issues of security, sensitivity, privacy and any other matters set out in this agreement."

McKinnel paraphrased in an opinion piece for The Spinoff last week that if there is anything that might make police look bad or could be evidence of them breaking the law, they will express concern and have it changed.

"In the event of a dispute as to the content of a programme, the decision of the police shall be binding on the producer."

Waititi said this control is "absolutely concerning".

"So 90 percent of those people on Police Ten 7 are Māori and Pasifika, and so if they've got total 100 percent control about what's shown on that programme, absolutely there's huge racial bias in that process because it's our people that are being featured," he told The Hui on Monday.

Police Ten 7 has come under fire recently after Auckland councillor Efeso Collins called on TVNZ to cancel the show, alleging it "feeds on racial stereotypes", particularly of young brown men being brutish.

Waititi said the reality show targets Māori and Pacific Islanders.

"I don't see them going to take tax evaders, which are predominantly Pākehā, on any of those programmes. No, they're hitting the streets and they're looking for and they're shopping for Māori and fishing for Māori and Pacific Islanders.

"This is our opportunity now for the community to stand up."

But Police Minister Poto Williams, also appearing on The Hui, defended Police Ten 7 saying it "isn't an adequate reflection" of the work officers do each day.

"The work that police do is a lot more about prevention, about building connections into the community to actually assist them in the work that they do every day," she said.

"Police Ten 7 does have a role, and I guess that is really around assisting with the resolution of crime."

Williams said police receive training in unconscious bias to ensure what they do is "fair and equitable" and that they "treat everyone with respect".

Police launched an investigation into "unconscious bias" against Māori in the force earlier this month. The study is set to focus on where bias may sit within police policies, processes, and practices.

Williams said that investigation will probably help police examine the "role" of Police Ten 7 in the context of their work around bias.

She wouldn't say whether she thought the reality show should be cancelled, noting it was a decision for TVNZ and police.

The Hui