New Zealand diplomats: Fiat using Maori haka in television ad is insensitive

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

Italian car company, Fiat, has used the haka to advertise its new car and New Zealand diplomats says it is culturally insensitive. The ads have gone to air in Italy and are viewable on their website.

The ad features woman wearing black and performing the haka: Ka Mate, which was written by the chief of Ng?ti Toa, Te Rauparaha. It is also the haka that is performed before every rugby game played by the New Zealand team, All Blacks.

The women perform the haka beside the new Fiat car and crowd noise is in the background to simulate the atmosphere in an All Blacks rugby match. As the haka is finished a woman drives away in the Fiat car and a boy in the back of the car pokes out his tongue, which is the action used to finish the haka.

The New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) said that they were told in April that an advertising company was planning to use the haka. Yesterday (July 3) Brad Tattersfield, a spokesman for MFAT, said “at the time we advised the advertising company that the use of Ka Mate in this way was culturally insensitive and inappropriate. MFAT advised the advertisers to either use a Maori group or a haka composed for women. However, the advertising company indicated they were proceeding despite this advice.”

Garry Nicholas, general manager of Te Toi Aoteroa, which promotes and protects Maori art and culture, said that he felt mixed feelings about the ad. “This isn’t a haka in my view but is certainly based on haka. It’s meant to be in fun and the little boy poking his tongue at the end of the clip makes that very clear.”

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