Dane MP labelled racist after NZ visit

NICOLE PRYOR
Last updated 08:55 08/04/2013
Marie Krarup
UNDER FIRE: Marie Krarup.

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Hate mail from angry New Zealanders is landing on the desk of a Danish MP who ridiculed her Maori welcome.

Right-wing politician Marie Krarup dubbed the powhiri an "uncivilised" ritual, and marae a "grotesque" mark of multicultural worship.

Krarup, in an opinion piece in Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, said she was shocked to be welcomed by a dancing, barely-clothed man, instead of a handshake or salute.

"When we came to a naval base, we were not received with a handshake or salute by uniformed men as usual," she wrote.

"No, we were welcomed with a Maori dance ritual, with a half-naked man in grass skirt, shouting and screaming in Maori."

Krarup, who was in New Zealand on a defence committee visit in March, said the man performed "strange rituals and poked his tongue out".

She said she felt like an "idiot" when giving a hongi, and was relieved to catch a big kiss on the cheek by one man instead of the traditional nose touching.

When it was time to sing, Krarup said the waiata sounded like a Danish children's song about a happy ladybird. She said it was accompanied by a "kindergarten-teacher-guitar-accompaniment".

The marae, or "Maori temple", was a form of cultural self-destruction, according to Krarup.

"It was decorated with God-figures with angry faces and large erect penises," she said.

"It's a mystery to me how the poor naval officers could endure both the ceremony and the surroundings."

Krarup told Berlingske Nyhedsbureau she had received hate mail from New Zealanders calling her a racist, and insisted she did not look down upon Maori.

She did, however, question why "European New Zealanders" were not able to "defend their culture", reported the Copenhagen Post.

"It sounds like I look down on the Maori," Krarup told Berlingske.

"Indeed I'm not, even though the culture is very foreign to me."

Danes living in New Zealand were appalled at the comments.

Dorthe Siggaard, 49, who has lived in New Zealand for 12 years, said Krarup does not represent what Danes think about Maori culture.

"Of course this is embarrassing - we are not proud of these comments," she said.

"Krarup is against anything to do with Islam, immigration - anything. It is no surprise she has made comments about indigenous people."

Krarup is a member of parliament for the Danish People's Party, which is described as a very right-wing party by political commentators.

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Its goals were to protect the freedom and cultural heritage of the Danish people, and limit immigration.

Borge Petersen, the Danish ambassador in Canberra, said he had been welcomed to New Zealand by powhiri several times.

"These events as well as the specific event during the welcome ceremony referred to by Mrs Krarup reflects for me the sincere wish of the New Zealand hosts to bid me welcome in the best possible way, namely through a Maori ceremony of welcome that has been a tradition for generations," he said.

"At the same time I feel the ceremony reflects the traditions and culture of New Zealand in general and thus gives me an insight into the history of New Zealand. All in all I see this as positive."

He said he had the "deepest respect" for people of Maori descent.

- Stuff

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