New Zealand
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New TVNZ host quits: Report of female colleague complaint, Minister aware of situation

TVNZ's new Breakfast host Kamahl Santamaria has quit only one month into the job. Video / TVNZ

TVNZ's new Breakfast host Kamahl Santamaria has quit only one month into the job. Video / TVNZ

The Broadcasting Minister says he has been assured fallout from the sudden resignation of new Breakfast presenter Kamahl Santamaria is being handled appropriately by the state broadcaster.

And TVNZ's own news team says the broadcaster's corporate bosses are refusing to provide answers about why Santamaria left, and 1News has now brought in an independent lawyer to guide TVNZ's coverage of the story.

Santamaria took up the role last month but has quit after just 31 days since his first day on air.

An email went out to TVNZ staff yesterday at 2.45pm from head of current affairs Paul Yurisich to say he had accepted the resignation.

In a statement, the network told the Herald, "TVNZ has accepted the resignation of Breakfast presenter Kamahl Santamaria. Kamahl has been on leave the last week, while he dealt with a personal matter which required his full attention, and he has now advised that he wishes to take an extended break with his family.

"Kamahl is focused on his family at this time, and we ask that everyone respects their wish for privacy."

Stuff reported it understood Santamaria's departure came after at least one female colleague complained about inappropriate behaviour from him.

A spokeswoman for Broadcasting and Media Minister Kris Faafoi said he was made aware of the situation at TVNZ through the "no surprises" principle - in which ministers are kept informed about sensitive matters which may become public.

Faafoi said he had been assured by TVNZ that the situation was being managed appropriately "with the correct support in place for those involved".

No further comment would be given because it was an internal staffing matter, he said.

1News led with the story on tonight's 6pm bulletin, saying it had asked TVNZ's corporate affairs department to respond.

The reporter said a statement from TVNZ bosses said: "We do not comment on the existence or substance of any individual's employment matters."

The reporter stressed the 1News team was different from TVNZ's "wider building", and said a external lawyer was guiding coverage of the story.

Santamaria had not responded to requests for comment from 1News.

On last night's 6pm news bulletin, a TVNZ reporter said Santamaria had told viewers he was going to Wellington to present after the Budget from the capital, but that never happened. Since then, Santamaria had been off air and viewers and staff hadn't been told why.

The reporter pointed out that what was earlier referred to as a family emergency was now being described as a personal matter.

Yesterday the Herald reported that the new star had not been seen on Breakfast for nine days. Santamaria was last seen on the show on May 18.

When contacted by the Herald for comment on Friday, TVNZ issued a short statement revealing Santamaria is currently navigating a "family emergency".

A spokesperson from the network said, "Kamahl is currently away dealing with a family emergency."

They added: "The matter is private to Kamahl and we are respecting he and his family's privacy."

TVNZ are yet to confirm who will fill in for Santamaria on the morning news show.

Santamaria confirmed in April he would be officially joining TVNZ's Breakfast team after John Campbell took on another role as TVNZ's chief correspondent.

The former Al Jazeera news anchor shared his excitement on Twitter at the time after TVNZ revealed he would be joining Indira Stewart, Matty McLean and Jenny-May Clarkson at the Breakfast table.

"It's official ... I'll be joining the @Breakfaston1 team later this month!" he wrote.

"Looking forward to early starts, the unpredictability of live breakfast TV, and hanging out with Jenny-May, @MattyMcLean & @Indiratweets every day."

Santamaria, an Auckland-born journalist, started his career as a sports reporter for Newshub before leaving New Zealand to pursue other ventures.

He had been teasing the announcement on Twitter after revealing he was leaving Al Jazeera, where he worked for more than 16 years.

He told viewers, "Finally this half-hour we are always taught as journalists not to make the story about ourselves but it would be remiss not to mention that today has been my last day at Al Jazeera after nearly 16 and a half years.

"It has been the most extraordinary journey, surrounded by exceptional journalists telling the stories which matter. I am so proud to have been a part of this channel and I will miss it greatly."