TVNZ apologises over made-up abuse messages

Last updated 07:39 27/02/2014

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Television New Zealand has apologised for a Breakfast stunt after discovering two of their staff had made up abusive messages to them that were read on air.

The programme two days ago had eight staff read out messages of abuse in the wake of the weekend death in Sydney of television presenter Charlotte Dawson.

But this morning the programme apologised saying that broadcaster Peter Williams and Seven Sharp reporter Dean Butler had made up their messages.

In an on-air statement the show said the two had misunderstood what they had been told to do, and believed it was a "light hearted parody." The other messages were genuine, Breakfast said.

"TVNZ is taking this matter very seriously and will be dealing with it appropriately," Breakfast said.

Williams and Butler have had their parody messages removed from on-line.

The message read out by Williams, now known to be made up, said: "My mother always told me that people who talk slowly think slowly. You talk slowly, Peter Williams."

Butler's said: "Don't take this the wrong way but I hope someone punches you."

In the genuine messages reporter Brooke Dobson was told to "shave off" a moustache, Seven Sharp co-host Toni Street was criticised for her "disgusting flabby arm skin" and co-host Jesse Mulligan was labelled "thick as a plank".

The revelation comes as the state broadcaster this week launched a probe into allegations of political bias surrounding Maori and Pacific Programmes department.

Head Shane Taurima quit last week after it was revealed he had facilitated a marae meeting to advise Labour on winning the Maori vote in the coming election. A branch meeting of Labour's Tamaki Makaurau electorate was also held in a TVNZ building.

Taurima failed to win Labour's nomination for the Ikaroa Rawhiti by-election last year, but was eyeing the nomination for the Tamaki Makaurau seat.

A full inquiry will now investigate the use of TVNZ resources for political means between February 2013 and February 2014 when Taurima headed the unit.

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