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US TV show mocks haka, makes light of Maori culture

Thursday 1 Dec 2016 7:07 p.m.

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Creators of an American television show have been criticised after characters performed a parody haka and sported fake moko and pounamu in a newly-released episode.

The latest installment of No Tomorrow, which is in its first season with US TV network CW and has not been renewed for a second, introduces the haka in a comic scene involving defiant warehouse employees.

In the episode, labourers protest an increase in their workload by performing the haka, in an attempt to pressure their boss into changing her stance.

The scene sees two characters introducing the indigenous Māori tradition to their boss.

"This dance, it's called a haka," said one character, dressed in a cardboard costume adorned with hand-drawn korus and other quasi-Māori designs.

"Yeah," another agrees, "and it's a celebration of the triumph of life over death."

It's clear the show's writers were well-aware of the offence the performance may have caused to the Māori community, as the boss urges them to "stop this flagrant display of cultural identity theft at once".

However the scene has left the Human Rights Commission (HRC) disappointed.

"Māori New Zealanders' views about the way their culture is depicted matter, and it's their voices that need to be heard by those who seek to use aspects of tikanga (Māori culture) for TV shows," HRC spokeswoman Christine Ammunson said.

"It's ironic that at the same time this show is airing, real haka are being performed in the United States by New Zealanders showing their support for indigenous Americans at the Standing Rock protests in Dakota."

It's certainly not the first time a haka performed by foreigners has caused outrage.

Earlier this year, a Dutch pop band's song about the treasured war dance was met with a mixture of outrage and mockery online, while football giants AC Milan were also derided for performing their own bizarre rendition of the haka before a match.

Former English rugby captain Matt Dawson also landed himself in a bit of trouble when he founded the 'hakarena' in the lead-up to last year's Rugby World Cup.

Newshub.

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