Cruise ship guests given 'disrespectful' pōwhiri at Port of Tauranga by non-Māori workers

Headlines 02/12/2019

And on todays episode of "Who the hell let this happen?" we have this story from Tauranga...

Photos of non-Māori men wearing "scribbles" on their faces and performing a powhiri at the Port of Tauranga have been slammed as "distasteful" and "disrespectful".

The photos were posted to social media on Monday. Facebook page "Steve the Māori" shared the images saying they were obtained from another private social media group.

In the pictures, a group of men appear to be presenting a powhiri to cruise ship passengers as they arrived at the Port of Tauranga on Monday morning.

The cruise ship company involved, Princess Cruises, addressed the photos saying "no offence was ever intended", NZME reports. The New Zealand arm of the company sails around Australia, NZ and the South Pacific.

"We took immediate steps to address this sensitive situation," a spokeswoman for the company told NZME.

Social media users meanwhile slammed the powhiri as a "disgrace".

"It's not only a mockery but distasteful and disrespectful," one Facebook user commented.

Mana whenua Ngāi Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley spoke to the NZ Herald, saying he was shocked at the photos, forcing him to perform his own background checks to confirm the incident took place.

"It is really disappointing. Silly, frustrating and insulting, all at the same time."

Stanley said there were plenty of local operators who could perform culturally appropriate pōwhiri.

"Our plea to the cruise liner is, just stop. Think about what you are doing.

"Get in touch with us and we can put you in touch with people who can do a far better, and appropriate, job."

Stanley continued, saying that not only was it offensive, but it was also a poor way to greet international guests:

"For the manuhiri to be treated with a pantomime pōwhiri like this beggars belief, and further perpetuates racist myths."

Credit to Newshub, NZ Herald and Michael Neilson for the story and quotes.