Journalist Rachel Smalley, the host of TV3’s political programme The Nation, has been called on to apologise to Education Minister Hekia Parata over questions she asked during an interview.
In an interview on May 25, Ms Smalley asked Ms Parata, “How Maori are you?” and, “Are you a bitch to work for?” – the latter in relation to the resignation of staff in Ms Parata’s ministerial office.
There’s a nebulous, shifting zone around Hekia Parata, in which she is (a) not a very good Minister, (b) trying to implement poor policy in her portfolio that she might not necessarily agree with, charter schools, say, and (c) a Maori Woman who is very self-confident and successful. Smalley’s questions here seem more like she’s being held accountable for point (c), instead of points (a) or (b). The high staff turn-over in Parata’s office is a legitimate question: it’s a cost to the taxpayer; but you don’t hear interviewers asking, say, Murray McCully if he’s a dickhead, or a cock. He is, but he’s still a senior Minister – just like Parata – and you have to respect that.