4 Mar 2019

Weaver says NZ Golf’s ‘korowai’ is just a ‘piece of faux fur’

From Checkpoint, 5:28 pm on 4 March 2019

An Australian golfer was draped in what NZ Golf says was a korowai or Māori cloak after winning the NZ Golf Open, but weaver Veranoa Hetet says it was a piece of "fake fur" and it's insulting to call it a korowai.

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Zach Murray of Australia, winner of the NZ Open. Photo: Photosport

When triumphant Australian golfer Zach Murray took out the New Zealand Open at the weekend he posed for photographers kissing his giant silver trophy wearing what initially appeared to be a korowai on his shoulders.

NZ Golf said it was a korowai or Māori cloak; social media and others have not been so kind describing it as a chunk of faux fur from Spotlight or a couch rug topped off with rooster feathers.  

Well-known weaver Veranoa Hetet is also a golf fan who was watching with whānau when Murray was cloaked in this thing that horrified her.

"I could tell straight away that it was a piece of faux fur that you can buy from Spotlight or Kmart or The Warehouse. I can tell at a glance - I've been weaving for years now and I know when a cloak is real and it's not real."

She said it was important to use the correct term for a Māori cloak so that the real korowai is not belittled or undermined.

"It's just using the right term," she said.

New Zealand Golf said it had been using the item of clothing for the past decade and although they could not say where it had come from, they did say it had been blessed by Ngāi Tahu.

Ms Hetet said the blessing made no difference and she was horrified that it had been used on a world stage.

"I'm embarrassed as a weaver. There are so many beautiful, accomplished weavers in New Zealand that could create something fitting, that would be fitting of the winner of the New Zealand Golf Open, and yet they chose to present him with something that was below par."

Ms Hetet said they should either not use a cloak or they should find a suitable weaver.

"Either do not use it or find a weaver who was able to create something that has a story that is specific to their competition, that has meaning and that holds mana, that holds mana in its very fabric, in its very make-up."

She said it was "tokenism" and "mis-appropriation" and it was not just an insult to weavers, but also to the winner of the competition.

Ms Hetet said a relation saw the same cloak being used couple years ago and wrote to Michael Hill and the New Zealand Golf Association but received no response.

"So this isn't the first time that it's been brought up and it's not the first time New Zealand Golf has been made aware that Māori people are unhappy, especially Māori weavers are unhappy about it."