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Moko Masks Withdrawn - Sharples Praises Media

Media praised for raising issues around Cultural Appropriation


Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader, Maori Party 14 August 2006

Dr Pita Sharples, Co-leader of the Maori Party, was today delighted at the news of the withdrawal of the Maori Face Tattoo kit which had been promoted on the American halloweentown store website.

"It is really important to acknowledge positive actions such as the prompt removal of the Taa Moko 'mask' from this site" said Dr Sharples, Arts, Culture and Heritage spokesperson for the Maori Party.

"I know the website managers will have been influenced by the courage of people such as Nga Hihi o te Raa Bidois who spoke out last week, amongst others who were prepared to stand up and defend the preservation of our taonga, including our taa moko" said Dr Sharples.

"The Maori media are also to be commended, and other local media who took up the cause, as they have helped to raise the importance of this issue amongst our communities".

"Actions such as the unprecedented actions of Philip Morris in being prepared to make a public apology on the use of Maori designs in their cigarette packaging earlier this year, and this latest retraction by the halloween website, give me confidence that we are making small steps in achieving cultural respect and understanding in international fora".

BACKGROUND

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.

ENDS

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