Fury at ‘racist’ cruise company’s NZ stunt
CRUISE ship guests have been welcomed to New Zealand with a performance by non-Maori men that's been slammed as "blatant racism".
Photos taken yesterday show guests from the Golden Princess cruise ship posing with several non-Maori men in crude skirts with "scribbles" across their faces, the New Zealand Herald reports.
A video shows the men appearing to be pretending to perform a powhiri, the traditional Maori welcoming ceremony.
The photos show the men standing next to a gazebo with Princess Cruises written across it. The company's Golden Princess ship arrived at the Port of Tauranga on the North Island at 6.30am Monday, local time.
Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley said he was shocked at the photos and had done his own background checks to confirm the incident took place.
"It is really disappointing. Silly, frustrating and insulting, all at the same time," he said.
Mr Stanley said there were plenty of local operators who could perform culturally appropriate powhiri.
"Our plea to the cruise liner is, just stop. Think about what you are doing," he said.
"Get in touch with us, and we can put you in touch with people who can do a far better, and appropriate, job."
Along with the offence caused to Maori, Mr Stanley said it was a terrible way to greet international guests.
"For the manuhiri (visitors) to be treated with a pantomime powhiri like this beggars belief and further perpetuates racist myths.
"The cruise industry is a multibillion-dollar industry, they've got some responsibility to do the right thing."
Mr Stanley said he would be following the incident up with the Port of Tauranga to ensure proper processes were in place to educate cruise ship operators.
Maori cultural adviser Karaitiana Taiuru said the social media posts were so bad he thought they were a hoax.
"It is blatant racism and exploitation of Maori culture and of staff by the company," he said.
"It is derogatory and there is no excuse for such behaviour in today's age where other actions have been in the media and criticised."
People were generally becoming more aware of cultural appropriation and the offence it causes, which made this situation all the more outrageous, Mr Taiuru said.
"Anyone with a basic understanding of the English language with access to any sort of media, whether it is a newspaper, radio or the internet, should be aware of the offensiveness," he said.
"Those who continue to practise this behaviour perpetuate disturbing and racist behaviour.
"There is absolutely no excuse for an international company to operate like this in New Zealand."
A Princess Cruises spokeswoman confirmed to the Herald the welcoming was organised by staff on-board the Golden Princess.
She said the company was "very disappointed" the situation had occurred.
"We give a complete assurance that no offence was ever intended, and we apologise unreservedly for what has happened," the spokeswoman said.
"We took immediate steps to address this sensitive situation.
"After being made aware of the situation, the ship's management team took action to withdraw the ship photographers from the area to prevent any further possibility of cultural insensitivity."
The company did not answer further questions posed by the Herald about how the situation came about.
A Tourism Bay of Plenty spokeswoman said they were "saddened and offended by the incident".
"Tourism Bay of Plenty condemns the appropriation of Maori culture, and we are disappointed to see this happen in Tauranga Moana," the spokeswoman said.
"We hope Princess Cruises can use the community's reaction as a cultural guideline for future engagement with tangata whenua (Maori people) in Aotearoa and abroad."
A Port of Tauranga spokeswoman said while they were not responsible for tourism activities, what happened was "not acceptable".
In 2010, a Tauranga tour operator came under fire for hiring foreign workers to wear traditional Maori dress.
Other recent instances of cultural appropriation include a Lions Club in South Taranaki using blackface as part of its Christmas parade and a food festival in Hokitika running an advertisement featuring a woman wearing Maori designs and a Native American head dress.
The most infamous, though, could be the University of Auckland School of Engineering's "haka party", where students performed their own version of Ka Mate while drunk, with obscenities painted on their bodies and wearing hard hats, boots and grass skirts.
The last "haka" occurred in 1979 after the protest group He Taua confronted the students, resulting in hospital admissions, stitches and broken bones.
This article originally appeared on the New Zealand Herald and was reproduced with permission