2 Dec 2016

Chch Santa Parade float called 'culturally insensitive'

2:39 pm on 2 December 2016

A Native American float will feature in Christchurch's Santa Parade this weekend, despite a complaint about it.

The Native American float which featured in the 2015 parade.

The Native American float which featured in the 2015 parade. Photo: Youtube: Mohammad Alzahlof

Christchurch residents Michelle and Derek Flores have asked the float be removed from the parade, saying it's culturally insensitive.

In an email to the organisers, she said the float which featured "white NZ-European children and adults dressed as First Nations, Native Americans" was highly inappropriate and culturally insensitive.

"They have no business being in any public parade, let alone a Santa Parade."

She said many people didn't seem to understand how inappropriate it was for white people to dress up in "redface".

"If white Americans or Canadians dressed up as Māori people with brown paint on their faces and in traditional Māori dress and had a float in a Santa parade doing the haka somewhere in North America, that would be incredibly inappropriate, right?"

Ms Flores also complained about a confederate flag - used by American states fighting support of slavery - which featured in the 2015 parade.

Parade organiser Pam Morris told Morning Report the Native American float had been part of the parade for decades and it would run in Sunday's parade.

She said the float was made by the Santa Parade Trust around 20 years ago as it had several model horses it wanted to use.

"They looked like Indian horses, and we just thought 'Well maybe we could have a cowboy and Indian float".

Ms Morris said she bought the headgear from the Ojibwe tribe in Canada and gained their permission to use them.

"There was no intention of anything political or being insensitive and the children just loved getting on the float."

Ms Morris said, as far as she was aware, the confederate flag would not be flown this year.

She said more than 100,00 people attended the parade and there had only been one complaint.

"Everybody gets offended by something. What offends you wouldn't offend me probably, and the other way around."

She said the float provided fun and entertainment and did not mock anyone.

The children set to feature on the float were excited to take part, including one young man whose mother died in the CCTV building, she said.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs