Gingerbread haka causes upset

Last updated 00:00 31/07/2007
MIKE KNOTT/North Shore Times
BITTER SWEET: A depiction of gingerbread men doing the haka to promote a bakery award has upset some members of the North Shore Maori community but Eurobake owner Roy West said it's just a bit of fun.

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A video depicting gingerbread men doing the haka has upset some members of the North Shore Maori community.

Bakery Industry Association of New Zealand designed the video to promote the Bakery of the Year Awards.

But some people feel the video borders on being culturally insensitive.

Northcote's Awataha Marae spokesman Anthony Wilson says that the haka is important to Maori culture and questions its use in this context.

"It's got to be treated with respect.

"It's easy to grab a cultural icon like the haka and use it, but unless you use it in an appropriate manner it can be very misleading in terms of what it represents.

"There's an obvious disconnection between the haka and gingerbread men," he says.

Mr Wilson is also the chief executive of Creative Gene - a company specialising in communication across cultures.

He says that in situations like this, companies and organisations should be consulting with cultural communication groups before making decisions that could be deemed culturally inappropriate.

Albany bakery Eurobake say there is nothing culturally insensitive about the video that is playing continuously in their shop.

Owner Roy West says there's a lot of positive feedback, with most people who come into his shop just seeing it as a bit of fun.

"I haven't had one person come in and say that it's culturally insensitive," Mr West says.

Bakery Industry Association of executive officer Belinda Jeursen says there is definitely no intention for the video to be culturally insensitive.

She says they felt they took appropriate steps to ensure the promotion wouldn't cause offence.

"We made sure to use exactly the same words as in the haka and also to maintain the integrity of it.

"Through working with our communication company, we decided it was appropriate for screening," she says.

Interest in the video is having a positive effect on New Zealand bakeries says Mr West.

Eurobake is selling more than 150 gingerbread men every three or four days, he says.

The video is now gaining worldwide attention with websites such as YouTube and Bebo registering thousands of hits a day on the gingerbread haka.

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- North Shore Times

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