3 Dec 2018

K-pop band apologise for using Māori karakia in song

7:15 pm on 3 December 2018

A popular South Korean boy band who used a Māori karakia at the start of a pop song has apologised for using it.

"Tūturu o whiti whakamaua kia tina": the rippling Māori chant marks the start of the latest hit from Korean boy band NCT 127 entitled Simon Says.

NCT 127 took the karakia sample from a wedding video that was posted online.

Following a backlash from Māori and intellectual property advocates, they have released a statement saying they didn't mean to cause offense.

"We at SM Entertainment did not hope to or mean to offend any Māori people, or anyone for that matter, through the use of this particular sample in the song," said SM Entertainement's Paul Huh.

"Understanding that these were very uplifting words, we thought that the said sample and the meaning of this sample matched the meaning of the lyrics of our song as well, which encourage listeners to find their true self."

The band say they reached out to the couple who posted the video before using it.

"We did request and receive clearance for the use of this particular sample from the original source prior to the release of the song through the production company after we spoke to the wedded Māori couple themselves.

"And we tried our best to find out the original meaning of the said sample and make a connection with our message."

But Māori intellectual rights advocate, Aroha Mead, was disappointed the band didn't offer to remove the sample from the song.

"While it was good to hear directly from the Band's management about their use of karakia in their video, it is clear that in seeking cultural advice they were unaware that the couple they consulted may well have been Māori but are not the 'original source', rather these phrases are part of a long-held collective cultural tradition of Māori.

"There has been no offer to remove that part of the song from the band's management, which would have been the ideal outcome."

The video clip has been viewed about nine million times.