Mormon church accused of perpetuating 'savage' Samoan stereotype

Depictions of Samoan people have stirred controversy.

Depictions of Samoan people have stirred controversy.

A Mormon church's exhibition which encourages people to superimpose their face on a Samoan warrior has been slammed as exploiting a culture for amusement.

A "discovery centre" at a Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints in Utah, in the United States, allows visitors to learn about different cultures around the world.

However, the depiction of a shirtless Samoan has been labelled as perpetuating a "barbarian" and "savage" stereotype for white people's entertainment, by prominent Kiwi academic and Mormon, Gina Colvin.

Canterbury academic Gina Colvin says the Church of Latter-Day Saints has a cultural history of plundering Pasifika ...

Canterbury academic Gina Colvin says the Church of Latter-Day Saints has a cultural history of plundering Pasifika cultures for spectacle and display.

The University of Canterbury academic discovered the exhibit on a recent trip to the United States.

Massey racism provokes call for university name change
Sir Peter Leitch says 'racist' comments misinterpreted
* Housing, retail space planned for Temple View, Hamilton

Depictions of Samoan people have stirred controversy.

Depictions of Samoan people have stirred controversy.

"I was appalled," she said.

"The Pacific Islands, for Mormon people has always been a place of spectacle, all they want to know is the music and the dance and they empty us of any other kind of identity. Pacific Islanders and Maori have often been used for their amusement, but never really understood."

Colvin, who describes herself as a "multi-generation life long Mormon", has published several papers on the faith.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio said Samoa had close ties to the Mormon religion.

Mangere MP Su'a William Sio said Samoa had close ties to the Mormon religion.

She said Pacific Islanders were being exploited for the amusement of white Americans. The exhibit comes with commentary which states "traditionally, obesity is considered a status symbol in Samoa". 

Ad Feedback

Colvin said it was an example of appropriation of culture.

"It reduces people to a limited range of identifiers."

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its 185th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City in 2015. But ...

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held its 185th Annual General Conference in Salt Lake City in 2015. But still faces accusations of perpetuating colonial attitudes.

By comparison, other cultures were fully dressed, with European cultures displayed as "dapper" and "civilised", she said.

The Samoan culture perpetuated the "warrior identity".

"It just reinforces that barbarian, savage identity."

Colvin questioned how much consultation had been conducted with Samoan people.

"Knowing white people are going to put their faces on your customary dress.

"But they don't do that."

She said people did not want to understand more, something she called "a very colonial mindset".

"I think they tend not to ask critical questions, it is an amusement for them."

Church spokeswoman Irene Caso said the church's intention was one of education and its message was one of unity and love.

She said the response from both members and nonmembers had been "extremely positive".

"This experience is intended to be a celebration of our patrons' cultures and heritage.

"The universal message of the church is one of unity and love." 

Caso said the experience was intended to be a gathering place where families could create memorable, fun connections to their ancestors.

Labour Pacific Island affairs spokesman Aupito Su'a William Sio hadn't seen the centre, but said it was trying to promote awareness about Samoa exists.

"The church may be attempting to present the values in the best way it can."

He said Samoa had close ties to the Mormon religion.

Sio said he was raised Catholic but has since become a member of the Mormon church.

He said it was traditional for a man to be shirtless and wearing a lavalava.

"That is acceptable traditional wear and is still acceptable today and practised today."

Sio said he was "grateful" that Colvin had raised the issue.

"This centre and [Colvin's] response highlights that we as a people need to now more about Samoa."

 - Sunday Star Times


Ad Feedback
special offers

Eat My Lunch boss shuts restaurant

Michael Meredith is renowned for innovation and degustation menus.

Michael Meredith has run one of the country's best restaurants for a decade.

Auckland Airport jet fuel cancellations grow video

Up to 3000 customers are expected to be impacted by cancelled flights on Wednesday.

36 more flights have being canned and 9000 passengers are being affected.

New steps welcomed by Waitangi community

Ngāti Rahiri Māori Komiti administrator​ Waireti Paora, FNDC senior facilities technical officer Mike Colebrook, marae ...

The Waitangi Marae community are over the moon with a new staircase linking the footpath to the foreshore.

Donations pay for dog's surgery

Hannelise La Lagadec and Kambi make a great team.

A therapy dog is recovery from lifesaving surgery thanks to donations to a Givealittle page.


Accident blamed on cycleway

Linda Gibson is worried a child could die after she collided with a cyclist on the controversial Island Bay cycleway.

Locals say a fatal accident is only a matter of time after crash badly injured a pedestrian and cyclist.

Kebab shop roasted

Upper Hutt kebab store owners must pay a Turkish couple more than $80,000 following the Employment Relations Authority's ...

Upper Hutt eatery fired worker because she wanted another child. Now it faces a $60,000 bill.

'Hard' housing choices 

2308 2013 Photo Ross Giblin, copyright Dominion Post, Fairfax.
Wellington City Council chief executive Kevin Lavery.

Chief exec warns Wellington councillors affordable housing agenda won't be easy to deliver.

'Suspect' suitcase full of clothes

A suspicious suitcase left outside the Treasury in Wellington has been found to be full of clothes.

Police stopped Wellington traffic to examine a case left outside the Treasury.


Brownlee's grassroots campaign

Gerry Brownlee prefers street corner meetings to debates with opponents when campaigning.

He hates debates and would rather talk to a handful of people on a street corner.

Fisher's body found

Jay Cairney and Keiran Lynch were missing after the Wendy J got into trouble off the coast of South Westland. One of ...

The body was found near the wreckage of the Wendy J fishing vessel on the Coast.

Motel used as crime base

Police followed a stolen car to a Christchurch motel and found a room full of stolen property.

Burglars booked a motel room under a false name and used it as a base to raid homes, police allege.

Cheap spots in favour

Cheaper suburbs are finding favour with Christchurch home buyers.

Home buyers opting for cheapest suburbs, while demand slows for pricier spots.


Waterworld - do we fix it?

Filter systems in the pool are slow, meaning a long closure if there's a code brown or other issue.

Old, weak pipes and slow filters are some of the reasons an extra $5.7m is requested.

New speed cameras

The speed cameras will be set up at 33 sites around the country, in an effort by police to drive down speed-related ...

Seven new permanent positions set up in high risk areas across Waikato region.

Review: Cucina Cafe, Hamilton

An $18 Kansas pulled pork sandwich from Cucina Cafe on Thackeray makes for a mysterious and delicious lunch.

The cafe located next to Anglesea Clinic was full of mystery and lovely old ladies.

A toast to a top Hamilton tipple

There are choices galore at aptly named Craft.

From craft beers from around the world to the shaken and stirred and early vintages, here are the best places to enjoy a drink.


Circus comes to town gallery

Max and Sophia perform the balancing act.

A new circus has come to town, complete with hoop diving, human pyramids and 12 girls on one bicycle.

Trade mark dispute

Brad Monaghan, from Venture Taranaki, with one of the flags promoting the 'like no other' slogan.

Venture Taranaki say despite the famous four words 'Taranaki Like No Other' being trade marked by a private person, it is still available for use.

Shots spark callout

Police were called to the scene around 9pm on Tuesday.

The neighbour heard gun shots, but when police arrived the man came out, drunk and unarmed.

Myrtle rust could surge

Manukorihi golf club was temporarily closed due to positive tests for myrtle rust in June.

The eradication of myrtle rust might not be possible, the Ministry for Primary Industries says.


Looking to te reo 

19092017   News  photo: WARWICK SMITH/STUFF
Te Reo M??ori appreciated in Brazil  -  Brazilian and Maori academics, ...

Te reo Māori could help breathe life back into endangered languages in Brazil.

House hunt despair

Peter Hughes wants a home, but says it's a struggle to find anything to rent cheaply in Palmerston North.

A new resident in Palmerston North says it is a struggle to find a cheap house to rent.

Keeping the workshop tidy

Te Manawa volunteer Charles Reggers with Greg Bloomfield's Koru Warrior.

A tidy workshop is a productive one and, thanks to Charles Reggers, Te Manawa's is exactly that.

Delivering chaos and uncertainty

Donald Trump has had a chaotic presidency of the United States.

OPINION: Donald Trump has had enough time to show he's fit for office.


Tahunanui and Motueka take lead

Tahunanui saw the biggest growth in house prices in the two years to June.

Tahunanui has seen the biggest growth in house prices in Nelson and Tasman district suburbs over the last two years.

Schools slam the Link

Schools in the Victory corridor have banded together to speak out against the proposed Southern Link.

Three Nelson schools and the kindergarten association have co-written a statement about the Southern Link.

Blackadder's impressive rise

Tasman flanker Ethan Blackadder carts the ball up against Otago.

Ethan Blackadder relishing step up in rugby intensity.

Jellyfish buzzing with real vibrancy

Debbie Lavery at the Jellyfish Cafe at Mapua Wharf.

Does Mapua's Jellyfish cafe have the best cafe view in the region? Our food writer thinks it could.


Businesses back racecourse site

The Ministry of Education says Waterlea Racecourse, in Blenheim, is still being considered for the site of Blenheim's ...

Chamber of Commerce throws weight behind Waterlea Racecourse, but wants a decision on new school campus either way.

Cafe confrontation

Prime Minister Bill English stopped in at BV Gourmet in Blenheim on the campaign trail on Tuesday. (File photo)

PM's coffee break gatecrashed as Labour candidate accuses National supporters of ripping down billboards.

Weather closes newly-fixed rail line

The Main North Line between Picton and Christchurch has been closed due to bad weather, just days after its post-quake ...

Just a single train managed to traverse the newly-repaired rail line from Christchurch to Picton before bad weather closed it again.

Owners highly motivated

New Zealand King Salmon's new barge is launched with air bags acting as rollers.

Four bedrooms, two bathrooms, 240 tonnes of fish feed. Wait, what?

South Canterbury

Parking meters stolen

Six parking meters have been stolen in Timaru, four from Bank St, and the other two from Strathallan St.

Police are looking for information after the theft of six parking meters in Timaru.

Rules could change

Minister Nick Smith said he endorsed the idea low-emission burners should only be introduced when old burners have ...

Meeting told Nick Smith will progress changes to national air standards.

Two escape fire video

Two people are in hospital after a well involved house fire near Timaru on Tuesday morning.

Elderly man carried wife over his shoulder as their house burned to the ground.

Fairlie helps crash victims

Fairlie Volunteer Fire Brigade firefighter Jeff Haugh, school bus driver Astrid Johns and firefighter Sam Haugh were ...

Bus driver, dairy owner and emergency staff among those who responded to bus crash.


Clyde's 'day of reckoning'

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan above Clyde.

The Central Otago township of Clyde faces a potential $34 million sewage system upgrade to meet national water policy standards.

Pair rescued from waterfall

Two people have been rescued from the top of a waterfall near Queenstown. (File photo)

Two people have been rescued from a steep track above a waterfall at a popular rockclimbing spot near Queenstown.

No Southern Utd games for Invercargill

Southern United's Michael Hogan challenges Leo Villa from Team Wellington in the air during their match at Rugby Park in ...

While Southern United won't play any national league matches in Invercargill this summer, they are still likely to visit the deep south.

Changes under way at hospital

An independent review of Dunedin Hospital's urology department has been carried out after several patients experienced ...

Health Minister expresses ''full confidence'' in Dunedin Hospital management after concerns were raised over life-threatening delays.


Seal lion shot

Department of Conservation staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot on a Catlins beach.

DOC staff have found a second critically endangered sea lion shot.

Upgrade planned for Elles Rd intersection

Lake St was the site of a crash between a train and a logging truck earlier in September.

One of Invercargill's most hazardous intersections is set for a major upgrade.

Tiwai celebrates

NZ Aluminium Smelters general manager Gretta Stephens, with Southland Girls' High School students Imogen Brankin, Tayla ...

Southland Girls' High School and New Zealand Aluminium Smelters are celebrating 10 years of working together.

Grandad makes 'cool' playground

Neil Hall watches his grandson, Jack Shepherd, having fun in the playground he built using a 1946 Austin truck.

Jack Shepherd is having a ball in the playground made by his grandad.

Ad Feedback