Disney apologises for Maui costume

7:10 pm on 22 September 2016

Disney has issued an apology and cancelled sales of its Maui costume, following criticism that it was a form of cultural appropriation.

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A child's costume, featuring "padded arms and legs", had been on sale on Disney's website. Photo: Screenshot

The costume is based on a character in Disney's upcoming animated film Moana, which follows a young navigator's journey across the South Pacific.

In the film, Maui is depicted as being large, barrel chested and tattooed.

A child's costume, featuring "padded arms and legs", had been on sale on Disney's website.

Disney's new hero Maui

Maui stars in Disney's Moana Photo: /

Auckland writer Leah Damm said earlier that, even with the best intentions, it wasn't right to wear someone else's skin.

"It fails to avoid being a super creepy reminder of the leisurely colonial practice of trophy-collecting scalps, heads, and other assorted body parts of indigenous peoples," she wrote on RNZ website The Wireless.

Others had posted criticism of the costume on Twitter.

"My daughter's culture is not a costume. I feel stupid for ever expecting Disney to get it right," Michelle Blau wrote.

Jess Banks said she was excited for the film, but added "as cool as Maui will be, other people's skins are not costumes".

A spokesperson for Disney said in a statement the team behind Moana had taken care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and regretted that the Maui costume had offended some people.

"We sincerely apologise and are pulling the costume from our website and stores."

Disney's decision to cancel sales was welcomed by some on social media, with one Twitter user commenting that it was a positive result.