Te Iti Kahurangi force online shopping site to 'back-down'

By Raniera Harrison

An overseas online shopping site has been forced to remove household items bearing images of nationally acclaimed kapa haka, Te Iti Kahurangi.

The head tutor and male leader of the group, Kingi Kiriona says, "Māori need to be alert and have a good think about how we eliminate this from happening again"

The matter was brought to the attention of numerous members of the group whilst family members were shopping online. It appears that this is not the first time that intellectual property rights have been front and centre of the kapa haka domain, however, Te Iti Kahurangi, established in 2000, have found themselves in the debacle with numerous members of the team appearing without authorisation on pillows, cups and other miscellaneous household items. 

"These are faces that have been put on pillows. Pillows that are used for sitting on. A pillow that a human behind will be on, a pillow that will be dribbled on, sweat upon. It's a clear breach of custom" argues Kiriona.

At approximately 1:00 pm this afternoon, Kiriona received an email notice from the company in question, Redbubble, stating they would be removing the items in question from their site. However, contained in the letter was further notice that the owners of the product would be given 14 days to challenge the decision.

"We wanted to show our sadness at their lack of research into whether or not the seller had gained sufficient rights and licensing to use the images on the pillows in question," says Kiriona, a graduate of Te Panekiretanga o Te Reo Māori.

Te Kāea understands that Te Iti Kahurangi sought legal advice from entities close to the national kapa haka body, Te Matatini who have long been aware of the discrepancies with regards to the use of Māori performers images over the years.

"We're currently undertaking legal advice over the matter. If it does not settle here, we will pursue help for this matter to quickly settle"

Te Kāea made an attempt to contact the company in question, alongside other companies connected - to no avail.