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Rotorua haka performers inspire Avatar 2 film

Movie actor Cliff Curtis is setting the record straight regarding speculations around the use of a haka-inspired element in the upcoming Avatar 2 film.

He says the idea came from 'Tuku Iho' a Te Puia Tourism cultural group during their performance to director James Cameron last year in America.

Curtis spoke up following his recognition at the Kea World Class New Zealand awards in Auckland.

"I love that debate around the haka.  I think that's really healthy but again I have the same level of concerns and skepticism about how our taonga are treated."

Curtis says the one-off performance last year by ‘Tuku Iho’ in Santa Monica gave film Director James Cameron the inspiration to create a cultural dance in Avatar 2.

"We draw from things Māori but we don't rip it off.  That's what we can't do.  We can't exploit it and say 'this is a Māori thing'. No, this is inspired by things Māori."

General Manager of Te Puia Tourism Eraia Kiel is happy to give the culture some global attention.

Eraia Kiel says, “Our Tuku Iho cultural group met James Cameron so we were ecstatic.  I'm amazed because our Māori culture is going to the world.”

Last night, the 49-year-old actor received the World Class New Zealand award at Kea for his commitment to indigenous storytelling globally.

"There's a clear commitment for me, not only as an actor, but to produce to keep creating narratives that are empowering us to tell our own stories", Curtis said.