An offer made to Jacinda Ardern to bury her placenta at Waitangi has been slammed as "cultural appropriation on a horrendous scale" by a Ngāpuhi leader.
In February, Labour MP Peeni Henare - who is of Ngāpuhi descent - suggested the Prime Minister participate in the traditional Māori custom after she gives birth to her first child.
- Prime Minister on a charm offensive at extended Waitangi trip
- New Zealanders divided over what Waitangi means
Ms Ardern said at the time that it was a decision she'd contemplate with partner Clarke Gayford, but told media the offer "meant a lot to [her]".
Her due date is June 17.
Ngāpuhi kaumatua David Rankin has heavily criticised the idea, and demanded that Ms Ardern choose somewhere else to bury her placenta.
"This is a Māori custom, and I've been getting calls all weekend from our people who are furious that a pākehā is appropriating our cultural practices and worse still, wants to do this on one of the most sacred sites for Ngāpuhi," he said.
A spokesperson for the Prime Minister told Newshub that while she said at the time the offer was a "significant gesture", she won't be commenting further on it.
In a statement, Mr Rankin claimed that the entire Waitangi site is regarded as tapu, and that not even high-ranking Māori leaders have buried placentas on the grounds.
"If you violate that tapu in this way, there will be consequences," he said. "As a parent, I would not want those consequences for my children."
He believes if Ms Ardern were to go ahead with the burial, she would be contributing to the wide-scale practice of white people adopting elements of the indigenous culture their ancestors tried to wipe out.
"What the Prime Minister is doing is this sort of cultural appropriation, but on a horrendous scale," he said.
"And we as Ngāpuhi will not stand for it."
In May Mr Rankin defended a pākehā woman's right to wear a traditional moko kauae tattoo, saying "it's her chin…if she wants to walk around with a scribble on her face that's entirely up to her".
He says as Ms Ardern has no ancestral claim to Waitangi, she should choose a burial site more appropriate for her culture.