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German haka ad 'fails miserably'

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 10/05/2017 Jule Scherer

An advertisement by German insurer ARAG which features a haka, the Maori war cry, has drawn criticism in New Zealand.

Social media users labelled the commercial disrespectful, with one commentator on YouTube calling it a "trivialisation of a sacred piece of culture."

However, Maori academic TeUrikore Biddle from Auckland's Unitec University has told Deutsche Presse-Agentur the concept isn't offensive, but that the execution appears to have failed miserably.

The advert, carrying the slogan "ready for everything", shows hundreds of men, women and children performing the traditional Maori war dance, while announcing their plans for the future such as building a house, becoming parents or getting a driving licence.

Ms Biddle said that the haka would often be used as an opportunity to raise contentious issues that impact on Maori.

The protagonists in the advert on the other hand were announcing their plans for the future, she said, adding that she didn't get the sense that the people in the ad were demonstrating feelings traditionally associated with a haka.

"It is like watching a PG animated movie but the music sets a mood for a thriller/action movie," she said.

ARAG defended the use of the war dance on the company's YouTube channel.

"People encourage one another to meet the challenges of the future while using haka elements," it wrote.

"To treat haka appropriately and reasonably we closely cooperated with a haka-specialist when creating the spot."

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