Newsroom wins Best Current Affairs

Newsroom Investigates, the team led by journalist Melanie Reid that broke the Oranga Tamariki 'uplifts' controversy and stopped desecration of an island in Fiji, won the top honour for current affairs at the NZ TV Awards last night.

Reid's team took the award for best current affairs programme ahead of finalists The Hui and Stuff Circuit.

Reid was also a finalist for reporter of the year, won by Stuff Circuit's Paula Penfold and the Oranga Tamariki video was in the final three for best documentary, won by Gaylene Preston's My Year with Helen. Best news and current affairs presenter was won by Hilary Barry of TVNZ for her work on the Christchurch Terror Attack and Newshub won best coverage of breaking news for its handling of the same tragic events. Best drama was Westside, best actress Danielle Cormack and best actor Mike Minogue.

The full list of the Huawei Mate30 Pro NZ TV Awards winners is here.

The award for best current affairs programme recognises Newsroom Investigates' inaugural year, funded for major video inquiries by NZ on Air.

Reid, reporter of the year at the Voyager Media Awards in 2018 and winner of the TV Awards best current affairs in 2017, said:

"It's fantastic to receive the recognition of this very prestigious award - and all the more because we are a small independent team.

Winning this award also shows just how much journalism is changing in New Zealand. New digital platforms, like Newsroom, are stepping up as the TV Networks retrench. 

Newsroom is part funded by our foundation partners and NZ on-air but we couldn’t do it without our Press Patron donors. If you can support us, and it doesn’t matter how much you can afford, we can keep doing the stories that really matter. Donate here.

"At Newsroom we believe that in a healthy democracy an inquiring media is not only essential but must stand strong. Increasingly as journalists we are confronted and confused by layers of public relations people who work for state agencies or large corporates often attempting to defend bad practice," she said.

"I'm old school and think these layers of comms people can get in the way of the truth.

"But our job is to kick ass .... not kiss it."Reid's story exposing the practices of Oranga Tamariki when trying to 'uplift' a week-old boy from his mother's arms in Hawkes Bay Hospital was viewed by more than half a million people - but not by the Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern or children's minister Tracey Martin, who would not watch it.

"It was the power of the state against one young girl clinging desperately to her new born," Reid said.  "I’ve been a journalist a long time and been in many unpleasant situations but that was a very ugly thing to witness.

"How is it that in 2019 we have a state agency taking Māori babies off their mothers in maternity hospitals," Reid asked, "when they should not be. Four inquiries and an urgent Waitangi Tribunal case will reveal just how widespread the situation is.

"For me Journalism is about the truth, no matter how uncomfortable it may be. New Zealand is a great country but it is also highly dysfunctional and a lot needs fixing. Whether we are sharing the story of Māori babies being taken off their mothers when they shouldn’t be or fighting a Chinese-backed development and being locked up in the Pacific , it is vital to have a team that has the guts to stand up, stand strong and tell the truth."

Reid said there'd been many challenges to her stories this year and proper investigations were never easy.

"Which brings me to the death this week of Mike Smith, my first boss in television in Christchurch in the mid 80s. 

"For three decades he has followed my career closely and in every letter, email or message he has signed it off “Don’t let the bastards get you down.” 

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