The Government’s housing developer Kāinga Ora has been paying $25,000 a month to sponsor media stories on NZME’s OneRoof real estate website.
But the stories from the KiwiBuild and public house developer did not carry a disclaimer making clear who was paying for them.
A disclaimer was added by NZME after Stuff approached the company for comment.
National’s housing spokeswoman Nicola Willis uncovered the content deal with a written question to Housing Minister Megan Woods.
“It’s a secret jack-up between the Government’s housing arm and a media provider to make what are ads look like genuine news stories,” Willis said.
Woods said in her answer to Willis the ongoing advertising agreement covered a page called “Our New Auckland” which featured advertising and “editorial content generation”.
“The purpose of this sponsorship is to raise awareness and education the Auckland public about the Kāinga Ora large scale developments, create a vision for the future, and to enable the sale of homes by its build partners.”
This section featured 64 stories styled to look like other news stories on OneRoof, many of which prominently featured Kāinga Ora affordable housing developments or talked about urban development in Auckland. Some even lifted quotes directly from pages on other sites that were more clearly run by Kāinga Ora.
But none of these pages made clear that the content was sponsored by Kāinga Ora with public money, a breach of the Advertising Standards Authority’s rules for this kind of ad.
What the Herald has done is what they condemned Cameron Slater for allegedly doing – taking money without disclosing it. Will they run any stories on themselves for this huge breach of ethics.
There are two issues here. The first is why is the Government spending $25,000 a month on housing propaganda ads rather than actually you know housing.
And the second issue is these ads were disguised as editorial, with no identification that they were paid for. And both NZME and Kāinga Ora must have known. Surely Kāinga Ora saw the ads they had paid for.
Willis said it wasn’t good enough for Kāinga Ora and the minister to blame NZME and wash their hands of the matter.
“The only way we have uncovered this $300,000 deal is because I have asked written questions about it.”
Yep this only got exposed thanks to an Opposition MP.