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TVNZ manager resigns over fundraising revelations

Monday 17 Feb 2014 4:58 p.m.

3 News can reveal state broadcaster TVNZ is being used as a campaign base by Labour Party activists.

They've even held a meeting in TVNZ's Maori and Pacific Unit aimed at fundraising for Labour.

The unit's manager, Shane Taurima, has held ambitions to become a Labour MP and his staff have been arranging Labour Party business, using TVNZ facilities like email.

Mr Taurima has resigned following the revelation.

Mr Taurima's a Labour Party activist. He could be standing as a Labour MP this election.

Documents obtained by 3 News show the state broadcaster is being used to help Labour's cause.

Labour's electorate committee for the Auckland Maori seat Tamaki Makaurau has been using TVNZ as a base.

Last year, a meeting was held at the Maori and Pacific unit's Hobson headquarters, next to TVNZ's main building, with Labour Party activists swiped through security.

On the agenda was "fundraising" – making money for the Labour Party.

The unit produces news, current affairs and documentary programmes like Te Karere, Marae Investigates and Waka Huia. Mr Taurima has managerial and editorial control.

And after failing in a bid to replace Parekura Horomia as Labour's MP in the Ikaroa-Rawhiti seat early last year, his political ambitions continued in Tamaki Makarau.

The electorate committee organised a hui in January using TVNZ email.

Labour leader David Cunliffe and other MPs attended, and a witness says Mr Taurima facilitated "political discussions".

The agenda says "Shane" ran a panel called "how will we win the Maori Vote in 2014". The agenda was sent out by Labour Party organiser Natasha Panui-Morris, production manager for Waka Huia in the Maori and Pacific unit.

And Labour Party activist recipients, also using TVNZ email, were Maria Kuiti, listed as an assistant producer in the unit, and Aroha Mane, listed as a digital content producer.

Mr Taurima did not comment but senior Labour sources believe he is keen to stand for Labour's candidacy in Tamaki Makarau. Nominations close this Sunday.

Broadcasting Minister Craig Foss said: "The public expect fair, balanced and politically neutral reporting from their broadcasters. Any information to suggest otherwise is a matter for the chief executive and the board to address."

So tonight there are questions for TVNZ.

3 News

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