Powhiri 'grotesque' – Danish politician

  • 08/04/2013

It's a traditional Maori welcome, but one visiting Danish politician found – in her words – the screaming, the shouting, the half-naked men uncomfortable and rather "grotesque".

Right-wing politician Marie Krarup says: "In Denmark the men wear trousers; here they were in a grass skirt, so it was quite different. If a Maori person came to Denmark they would describe Denmark as very funny and grotesque."

Ms Krarup, a Danish People's Party member, was welcomed onto the navy's marae last month as part of a defence delegation. She was warned what to expect.

"It looks very strange and different. I was told about it and said 'please don't laugh'," she says.

Instead, she wrote the blog that many New Zealanders – including kapa haka leaders – thought was offensive.

Kapa haka leader Tapeta Wehi says many celebrities, including Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson and US president Bill Clinton have enjoyed being welcomed by a powhiri.

"We even did a powhiri for Nelson Mandela. For me it's the first time I've heard that kind of reaction. It's a wee bit annoying actually. I think she should apologise," he says.

When asked if she would, Ms Krarup simply replied, "If they are sad because they have misread my article, I would like them to read it once more of course."

But Conservative Party leader Colin Craig agreed, saying not everyone was impressed by a bare-bottomed native, making threatening gestures.

"I mean obviously it's an international guest and she was put in a situation that was potentially embarrassing, and she has reacted to that. And as a country we want to avoid that," he says.

He suggested a cup of tea and a handshake instead.

Race relations commissioner Susan Devoy didn't want to be interviewed on the issue.

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source: newshub archive