Going Native Affairs

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Last updated 16:11 10/03/2013
Mihingarangi Forbes
Fairfax NZ
CENTRE STAGE: Journalist Mihingarangi Forbes has spent the past year as a producer but is stepping out of the shadows to be the new face of Native Affairs.
Mihingarangi Forbes and John Campbell
THE APPRENTICE: Mihingarangi Forbes spent seven years working at Campbell Live before joining Maori TV.

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This week journalist Mihingarangi Forbes will start a new gig as presenter of Native Affairs, Maori Television's flagship current affairs show.

Forbes is an award-winning journalist who honed her skills with stints at TVNZ and TV3 (including seven years at Campbell Live) before joining Maori Television last year as a producer for Te Kaea, the channel's daily news bulletin.

But the experienced reporter admits to being a bit nervous about her new role, especially as she is taking over from veteran presenter Julian Wilcox, whose new title at the station is general manager news and current affairs.

"I'm absolutely aware that Julian has left the most humungous shoes to fill and I try not to think about it," she says, finishing the sentence with a small laugh.

For his part, Wilcox has said that Forbes has a proven news and current affairs background.

In an announcement about her appointment, he said: "She has a fantastic on-screen presence and she's not afraid of asking the hard questions."

Forbes is excited about her new role, which is a new direction for her, and something she says will be a "massive challenge".

For the past year she has been in a more behind the scenes role as a producer.

"I've really enjoyed it and I've really enjoyed working with young reporters who are keen and were just looking for a little bit of direction," she explains. "I've had a great year here and I'm really looking forward to going back to current affairs as well."

Her new role will mean getting back in front of the camera, along with presenting live television for the first time.

One thing she is looking forward to is being able to tell the kind of stories that don't always make it to air on mainstream television.

She gives an example from about six years ago when she did a story on the ownership of the Waikato river, just as Tainui started to talk to the Government about co-ownership.

The story, which was ahead of its time in highlighting the issue, didn't get played on air.

Other times she felt that she'd come with stories that might be a Maori based issue or a great issue for television but they weren't reflected in ratings or the programme's style so they didn't go ahead - something she describes as sometimes being a "real battle for me".

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"With Native Affairs I feel like all those story ideas I can feed into other people's stories and we're kind of on the same page so I'm really excited about being able to push a certain kind of story with a Maori angle."

Forbes says she has enjoyed all the places she's worked at and learned a lot from her jobs.

But she agrees that Maori Television is a special workplace, from sharing kai together to the teamwork that kind of practice fosters. "It's really good, it's lovely. It's got a really nice team here and it's got a really beautiful environment that you work in."

So how does she spot a good story?

"What works for me is the same old thing, if there is some drama to it usually people want to watch it. If it's breaking or if it's new information people will watch it."

And then she adds: "But the great thing about working in Maori news here is that when there is an issue, like for example water, we will do two or three stories on it, we won't just do the once over lightly... We'll take the next story... it's kind of like a layered affect where we will pull apart the pieces and put some background into why the decisions were made and give people an opportunity to be heard... That's the beauty of being here."

Native Affairs, Maori TV, Monday, 8.30pm

- Sunday News

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