New Zealand media company RadioWorks has been fined $3000 after one of its programs contained a "high level of vitriol" towards Maori, including a slur making light of the removal of Aboriginal Tasmanians.
Two complaints made to the New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority were upheld last week in relation to an interview on the Magic Talk radio station's afternoons program, hosted by Sean Plunket.
Mr Plunket interviewed a spokesperson from Te Whanau a Apanui, a Maori iwi - or community - on the North Island about the establishment of roadblocks to discourage non-essential travel to the territory at the height of COVID.
The May 6 interview included Mr Plunket describing iwi as "bullies", asking if they "receive benefits", questioning child abuse amongst the population and questioning their legal authority to set up roadblocks, which had been provided by police.
At the end, he read out listener feedback which included a reference to "the depopulation of Aboriginal people in Tasmania".
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Mr Plunket said: "They wouldn't have any checkpoint problems there".
The BSA described the slur as "embedding the discriminatory effect of the broadcast".
"To conclude the interview, which disparaged iwi checkpoints and amounted to a persistent, deliberate attack on Maori, by making light of the depopulation of Aboriginal people in Tasmania, aggravated the harm generated by the original comments," the decision concluded.
The BSA found that while the checkpoint issue had legitimate public interest, Mr Plunket's approach was "inflammatory".
"The comments made following the interview were either intended to encourage harmful tropes and views, or reflected ignorance at a level that is offensive and harmful to Maori," the decision reads.
"The broadcaster felt the segment did not contain a 'high level of vitriol'. We disagree."
RadioWorks was fined $3000 and ordered to make an on-air apology within one month.
Aboriginal Tasmanians - Palawa - were subjected to colonial violence and then rounded up in the 1830s by George Augustus Robinson to negotiate their surrender, before the remainder were sent to Wybalenna on Flinders Island.
Those who survived were later relocated to Oyster Cove, despite being promised they could one day return to their lands.
At the last Census, about 4.6 per cent of Tasmania's population identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander.