New Zealand’s Chief Ombudsman, Peter Boshier, says Radio New Zealand (RNZ) should release a full transcript of a speech made by former Minister, Kiri Allan, at her then fiancée, former RNZ presenter, Māni Dunlop’s farewell event.
Mr Boshier received three separate complaints about RNZ’s decision to refuse requests for audio recordings or transcripts of the speech Ms Allan gave in March this year, prompting an investigation under the Official Information Act (OIA).
RNZ refused the requests for the full speech on the basis that was necessary to protect Ms Allan’s privacy, the privacy of other individuals and to protect ‘the tikanga of RNZ and its kaimahi.’ However, it released parts of a transcript of the speech for public interest reasons.
The state broadcaster also suggested it was entitled to withhold the information on the basis Ms Allan’s comments were made in confidence, and release of the speech would prejudice future arrangements for farewell events, the Chief Ombudsman said today.
“Based on the context in which the speech was given, as well as the personal nature of its content, I would generally be of the view that the speech should be withheld to protect the privacy of Ms Allan and Ms Dunlop,” Mr Boshier said.
“However, both advised me they had no objections to a full transcript being released. Therefore with the exception of the names of third parties referred to in the speech, RNZ was not entitled to withhold a transcript given Ms Allan and Ms Dunlop supported the release.
“I am of the view, however, that RNZ was entitled to refuse the request for an audio recording of the speech. An audio recording reveals more than a transcript, such as the tone of the speaker, and neither Ms Allan nor Ms Dunlop have consented to release of the audio.”
In forming his opinion, Mr Boshier considered RNZ’s internal practices, described as “tikanga protocols” in the context of the relevant withholding grounds in the OIA.
He has recommended that RNZ prepares and releases to the complainants, a full transcript of the speech, while withholding the names of the third parties Ms Allan referred to, within 21 working days.