23 Mar 2018

Public outrage at Wildfoods Festival's advertising

From Checkpoint, 5:43 pm on 23 March 2018

Organisers of the Hokitika Wildfoods Festival have been slammed for an advertisement that features a woman wearing Māori designs and a native American head dress.
The Hokitika Wildfoods Festival, famed for serving up tastebud-tingling food like huhu grubs and mountain oysters, reckoned it provided "A Taste of the Wild".

But it wasn't the festival's obscure delicacies that had made Māori cultural adviser Karaitiana Taiuru wild.

He was hot under the collar about an image it used of a woman wearing traditional indigenous clothing to promote the festival's 30th anniversary next March.

"It was a disgusting and inappropriate use of indigenous traditional wear. One can only assume that they thought that native Americans first nations and Māori are associated with wild food for some reason."

Mr Taiuru said men traditionally wore native American head wear and he was outraged it had been paired with Māori designs. 

"The head wear that the lady's wearing is traditionally for men of high rank to wear, not for women, and it's a privilege and a right that's earned. That head gear was also mixed with a Māori pattern as well which just further mocks the whole situation." 

The organisers deleted the image today after hundreds of people called for its removal on social media.

But Westland District Mayor Bruce Smith didn't think there was anything wrong with it and said he told the organisers to put it back up.

"My view is the PC brigade, they're all frothing at their mouth while they drink their lattes in Auckland. We're not in North America. I see the poster got taken down,  I've sent a message through saying put it back up. 

"If people don't like it, tell them to not watch it." 

Mr Smith said he even had the backing of the local iwi.

"The festival and our council has got a very strong and growing relationship with Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae and we stand shoulder to shoulder on this."

Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae Chair Francois Tumahai said the iwi supported the festival but did not support cultural misappropriation.

He said Ngāti Waewae had not been involved in the development or design of the poster and did not support its use. 

Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata said there was an abundance of literature written by indigenous people demonstrating that these kinds of images were offensive and unacceptable.

She suggested the mayor should read some of it. 

"The literature has been out there and it's been clearly stated that this is not acceptable practice and that information has been out there for quite some time now. 

"I recommend that the mayor and others who like to use this type of imagery educate themselves on that issue." 

Ms Ngata said both Māori and native Americans had fought for years to educate the world on why using their cultural taonga outside of their intended purpose was wrong. 

She said for people to say it wasn't an issue was the epitome of privilege.