Māori call for cultural appropriation to stop

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

A call from Māori Trademarks advisor Karaitiana Taiuru for New Zealand business to stop Māori cultural appropriation is being supported by some Māori.  The BP and The Warehouse are among some business Taiuru has identified.

“I think it's disgusting because you got to go to the right place. At least, that's not the right place,” says Hare Akarana of Ngāti Whātua.

“They might have got permission but I want to see it on the paper saying that it was permissive for them to do that.”

“It's kiwiana almost to a degree, that's what I see immediately,” says Cory Looker of Ngāpuhi.

“But because it's on the side of a bag you have to consider how it got there.”

Judith Morunga of Ngāpuhi says “I think it's wrong because our own Māori people should be using those, otherwise it gets lost to foreigners.”

The Warehouse tiki carry bag, BP advertising panels showcasing the tiki and Titoki Whiskey in a tiki fashioned bottle are some businesses Taiuru says continue to culturally appropriate Māori.

“They need to consult with Māori,” he says.

“They need to as part of their Q & A as part of their branding they need to consider whatever products they're using is appropriate for Māori, and if it's offensive or appropriation then they should reconsider their branding.”

“I don't think that's good at all. Umm to have anything of our (Māori) nature on waipiro is not good,” says Looker.

Taiuru says cultural appropriation is an international issue and the government must advance discussion with Wai 262 on traditional Māori rights.

“When we consider the customary point of view I don't think I'm being precious,” he says.

“It is offensive to some people, some Māori and it is something that with a little bit of education and consideration, New Zealand businesses can stop cultural appropriation.”

A BP spokesperson told Te Kāea that some of their BP 2Go sites were using a Tiki as part of a general instore display and necessary protocols were followed by their marketing agency at the time.

However, in October all sites removed the graphic as they didn't want to cause offence.

“I think that if you are gonna to ride on the backs of years of people cultivating a culture and getting a dollar out of it, somewhere along the line you need to front up,” says Looker.

The Warehouse were unable to comment on the matter, however Taiuru will continue to raise the issue.