23 Jul 2021

Bay of Plenty DHB Covid-19 pamphlet: Apology after use of 'offensive material'

3:53 pm on 23 July 2021

Bay of Plenty heath officials have apologised over a Covid-19 pamphlet showing a cartoon virus with a mataora getting kicked and stabbed.

Disease cell of Coronavirus Covid-19 outbreak and coronaviruses influenza background, infectious virus. SARS, 3D render

(File image) Photo: 123rf.com

The brochure urged people to give Covid-19 the boot.

Images of the virus had mataora or full face moko - some were shown being kicked by a man in gumboots, another was being stabbed by a tewhatewha or spear.

In a joint statement, the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi apologised for the inappropriate design.

DHB board chair Sharon Shea said it was created by a Māori artist and had gone through an approval process - however it was clear that was not robust enough.

"I saw the design last night. I was offended by it. It was wrong," she said in a statement.

"On this occasion, we have failed our Māori community, and we apologise. It's not good enough."

Shea said she had asked the chief executive, Pete Chandler, to start a review of the protocols and approval process in place.

"We are working with our Te Tiriti governance partner, Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi, and this is a matter of urgency."

She said this was an "unwanted distraction" from wanting to deliver as many vaccines as possible.

Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi chair Linda Steel said she fully backed the DHB chair and chief executive's decision in removing the "totally offensive material" and starting a review.

"Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi which consists of 17 iwi from Mai I Ngā Kuri a Whaarei ki Tihirau are beyond offended that the most sacred part of our tinana has been depicted in this manner and unreservedly apologise to all our whānau, hapu, iwi and hāpori communities."

All of the pamphlets would be destroyed, and the design would not be used again.