28 Nov 2018

Māori karakia features in Korean pop song

4:24 pm on 28 November 2018

A popular South Korean boy band is causing controversy by using a Māori karakia at the start of its new pop song.

The te reo Māori words, "Tūturu o whiti whakamaua kia tina" feature at the beginning of the track Simon Says by NCT 127.

The video clip has been viewed more than 6.8 million times since it was uploaded on 22 November.

Researcher Aroha Mead, an advocate for Māori intellectual property, said the words used in the song were frequently used in a karakia or prayer.

"They are very empowering and affirmative respectful words, so if this song is not carrying on that spirit... then they have used it inappropriately," she said.

Aroha Mead says the process has not been respectful.

Aroha Mead Photo: Victoria University

The Māori phrase is used as a coming together of people and to close a discussion, so the fact that it is used at the beginning of the song is telling, she said.

"So that already gives you a sense that they haven't researched it.

"The problem is the difference between being inspired by culture and wanting to respect it from just taking it.

"And using it in ways where they haven't actually researched whether the use is appropriate or inappropriate."

Some YouTube viewers labelled it as cultural appropriation, while one user uploaded the song with the karakia removed.

But some New Zealanders were happy with it, commenting that the use of the karakia was promoting the Māori culture internationally.

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