A COVID-19 vaccine information booklet has been deemed racist after it used a Māori facial tattoo on a cartoon COVID-19 spore, forcing a DHB to withdraw it from circulation.
Pictures in the booklet created by the Bay of Plenty District Health Board show the virus with a human-like face tattooed with a mataora, a traditional Māori facial tattoo.
Race relations commissioner Meng Foon told Newshub the booklet is "racist to the core".
"There we go again, absolutely culturally ignorant, culturally insensitive."
One picture shows a man kicking the tattooed virus and another has a surgeon standing on its head.
Labour MP Tamati Coffey shared his disgust on Facebook.
"Don't kick or stand on anything with a mataora, it is tapu practice that demands more respect."
Bay of Plenty District Health Board chief executive Peter Bonneville commented on Coffey's post with an apology.
"I apologise on behalf of the DHB for the significant offence and hurt that this will have caused, it is totally unacceptable to us."
Bonneville says he wasn't aware of the offensive booklet until Coffey bought it to his attention.
"I am absolutely appalled by the imagery, there is no way this should have passed DHB approval."
Foon told Newshub the District Health Board has deeper issues that need to be fixed.
"I am happy with the chief executive's actions but there must be a systemic issue in the DHB that needs to be resolved."
Toi Te Ora, Bay of Plenty's public health says they had no involvement with developing the booklet and that their logo was used without their permission.
"We would never support material with imagery such as this."
Bonneville says an investigation into the booklet is taking place.
"We are investigating and do need to confirm the facts but for now I can confirm that this leaflet has been fully withdrawn from circulation."