Pacific Media Watch

17 November 2011

NZ: Campbell Live wins award for Samoa tsunami money investigation

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John Campbell flanked by Pip Keane and Claudine MacLean at the award ceremony. Photo: Michael Craig/AFTA

AUCKLAND (Pacific Media Watch): Controversial reports by Campbell Live last year into the tsunami funds donated to Samoa have won the Aotearoa Film and Television Award for Investigation of the Year.

In a move that is sure to irk the Prime Minister of Samoa Tuilaepa Sa'ilele Malielegaoi, the AFTA was given to New Zealand's TV3 crew of John Campbell and producers Pip Keane and Claudine Maclean.

The Samoan PM failed in his efforts to bring an action against TV3 for the reports and the last news was that he had appealed the NZ Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) decision against him.

Cultural clash
The contentious report into the Samoan government's spending of aid money and lack of accountability was seen by many as misleading and even offensive to Samoans, with little cultural appreciation for the lifestyles and kinds of housing that Samoans typically use.

However, others were pleased with the report, saying it was the only investigation that was attempting to hold the government to account for the generous amounts of donations received by international aid organisations, as well as countries and individuals.

The reports were featured on Radio New Zealand's Mediawatch programme last year, which concluded that Campbell Live's aims were admirable, but the approach could have been more culturally sensitive.

Radio New Zealand International sourced comment from the head of NZAID at the time, who was very positive about the rebuilding work undertaken by the Samoan government, in contrast to the content of the Campbell Live reports.

Still not accountable
However, after continual promises of outlining the amounts of funds received and where they were allocated, the Samoan government has not been able to do so more than two years on.

The Post-Tsunami Recovery Plan for 2010–2013 outlined plans for spending, but was not clear on exactly what had been received and by who.

In other AFTA awards, Māori Television received awards for the best current affairs programme Native Affairs; children's/youth programme with Kaitangata Twitch; the best information programme for Whare Maori; as well as the best Māori language programme for E Tū Kahikatea.

The AFTA Awards this year involved 98 judges looking at 657 entries to determine the finalists in 61 categories.

(cc) Creative Commons

Campbell Live tsunami reports:
Where has the tsunami relief money gone?

Samoa tsunami: has aid been used effectively?

Full list of AFTA Awards

Alex Perrottet

PMW contributing editor 2011-2012

Alex Perrottet is a journalist who has completed a Masters degree and Postgraduate Diploma in Communication Studies student at AUT University.