National | Indigenous

Kapa haka image used to highlight Māori as primitive

The Human Rights Commission says the use of an image of kapa haka members for a Treaty Gate message is racist. The Foundation has used an image of Te Mātārae I Ōrehu kapa haka members with a message that the Māori culture, by which our education system now defines itself, is a primitive culture.

Te Mātārae i O Rehu leader Wetini Mitai-Ngatai says he's angry this image of his group was used to portray what he describes as a racist message.

"There's no need to give these types of statements attention because that's just feeding into the negativity."

The image was used by Treatygate. According to their website their goal is to achieve a New Zealand where all citizens have the same rights and live under the same law.

Treaty Gate Spokesperson John Ansell told Te Kāea, “I wasn't aware of who owned it or which kapa haka group it depicted. I'm sorry if they're offended. For the record I like the more peaceful aspects of Maori culture like waiata or poi. I have no trouble with people celebrating their culture any way they like."

The Human Rights Commission says "What this shows us is that Māori New Zealanders continue to face racism, intolerance and xenophobia today in 2017"

Mitai-Ngatai says, "These are keyboard warriors hiding behind a screen. At the moment we are pushing their agenda because we are giving it attention."

Ansell feels their message is misunderstood, “They don't understand that criticism is not racism now. As to where I got the photo I can't remember. Someone sent it to me I seem to recall as a fairly typical example of the aggression that is a big feature of Māori culture, that's just a fact."

Green Party MP Marama Davidson agrees the approach is racist and an insult to the group.

"They have stolen their pictures and used it in a way to slander Te Mātārae and to slander Māori."