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Trick or Treat? Cultural Appropriation of Moko

Friday 11 August 2006

Te Ururoa Flavell, Member of Parliament for Waiariki

Maori Party Spokesperson for International Relations

Maori Party MP for Waiariki, Te Ururoa Flavell, has spoken out this week against the cultural appropriation of the moko, being brandished on an American Halloween website.

"Not only are these types of providers happy to appropriate the symbols and names belonging to first nation Americans but now they have spread out into the Pacific, to appropriate our indigenous symbols".

"Tobacco companies such as Philip Morris, have recently been challenged on the use of Maori designs in their cigarette packaging; and we are not about to have pumpkins or people decorated with our traditional symbols, all for the purposes of a trick or a treat".

"The trick in fact, is to treat people with respect" stated Te Ururoa Flavell, Maori Party spokesperson on International Relations.

"Last week in Parliament, my colleague, Dr Pita Sharples, spoke at the third reading of the Protected Objects and Appropriation Bill, which is to prevent the type of exploitation that this so called Maori Face tattoo kit represents.

Dr Sharples referred to a quote from academic, Professor of Research and Development at Waikato University, Dr Ngahuia Te Awekotuku, who stated that foreign tattooists' use of Maori designs were "pillaging the spirit of a tribal people to sate the culturally malnourished appetites of the decadent West". (More than skin deep: Ta Moko today' )

"A situation that our indigenous brothers and sisters in the United States, will be very aware of".

"In this week in which we have celebrated World's Indigenous People's Day (August 9), the finding of our indigenous symbols on a halloweentown store website, is an affront and an indication of disrespect, typical of people who want to make a quick buck, and will exploit anyone, to do so" ended Te Ururoa Flavell.


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