An ad for a 7-Eleven Slurpee that depicted the Maori Haka has been deemed not offensive by the Advertising Standards Board (ASB).
The ad which aired on social media showed a “traditional Maori warrior” singing the virtues of a Kiwi Berry Slurpee.
Click here to see the offending clip.
One complainant to the ASB described the ad as “totally inaccurate and offensive representation of Maori people”.
The complainant said the ad could “propagate a racist attitude towards not only Maori, but indigenous people and cultures more broadly.
“The awkward performance depicts Maori people as illiterate savages who simply grunt and yell their way through their own native songs and dances.
“Put simply, the fact that a non-Maori organisation is cheaply exploiting (not even respectfully appropriating) my culture and customs for [its] own commercial gain is utterly offensive and unethical.”
In its defence, 7-Eleven claimed the ad was “carefully considered” and that it had not meant to be threatening. It said that the “depiction is not in any way intended to ridicule or portray Maori people in a negative manner”.
The actor in the ad was of Maori heritage and willingly agreed to partake in the ad.
Much like ANZAC in Australia the Haka is protected by law in New Zealand and any attempts to commercialise it.
The ASB ruled that the Maori actor was portrayed in a positive manner and was “not ridiculed or presented in a light which suggests he is to be laughed at or thought less of”.
Members of the ASB have been reported in The Guardian Australia as saying that the All Blacks use of the Haka had so commercialised the traditional war dance that most people couldn’t see any other significance.