Be very wary, if you inject Maori imagery into your promotion – you could be accused of theft

November 2, 2012

Carel Thompson-Teepa … so what would she make of the Warriors’ sponsor?

The tossers who dump Pakeha place names to replace them with Maori place names are doing their bit to make this country distinctive by emphasising the importance of its Maori minority.

Likewise, if Alf has observedcorrectly, there is a great urge among growing numbers of non-Maori to learn the Maori language.

And to adopt Maori culture.

But anyone who adopts Maori words or elements of Maori culture must be very, very wary.

They are apt to be accused of all sorts of heinous crimes, including cultural theft.

You can find the earnest efforts of a Maori researcher to study the phenomenon of the Kiwi love affair with Maori culture here.

The researcher was Carel Thompson-Teepa, a Ngati Porou sheila by all accounts.

And a comely sheila, too, if Alf can be forgiven giving an opinion.

Anyway, she wrote:

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The hunt is on for a Kiwi icon to sell infant formula without being culturally offensive

June 1, 2011

But is this a good way to sell canned baby formula?

In a follow-up to an item posted here the other day, Alf observes that the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry has done things differently from Tariana Turia.

It has investigated a Maori-branded infant formula being exported to China (and Tariana is bound to appreicate that this has been done).

The contents of the cans of baby tucker were given first priority and – we are told – they meet all food safety and export regulations.

MAF now will look at marketing and labelling considerations.

Tariana Turia, our Associate Minister of Health, did things the other way around and made the branding (with Maori imagery) her first concern.

She can chalk this up as a triumph because the company that is peddling this stuff is now looking for a new brand.

Kiaora’s experience will be instructive for other companies that come to this country (as they are bound to do, because of the asset fire sale that is now under way to help us settle our debts).

Nobody gets too excited about foreigners slapping an English word on a product.

But if they use a Maori word, they had better be ready for a fight with our special people, who can be very possessive about Maori words.

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