A now deleted viral video in which NHS workers in the UK performed a modified version of the haka, a ceremonial dance in Maori culture, has been condemned as “cultural appropriation.”
The video received over 600,000 views on Twitter before it was removed, presumably in response to claims that it was racist.
In the clip, nurses from the Tavistock Day Case Theatre in England performed the iconic dance while wearing white headbands and black face paint.
At the end of the video, one of the nurses screams, “This is the message we wish to affirm, you’ll never beat us we hate you, you germ. Together we’ll triumph with the strength from within. Mankind will destroy you, mankind will win.”
However, despite following a trend of other dancing videos by health professionals which have been labeled both “cringe” and “courageous” by viewers, the haka version was deemed to have crossed the line of political correctness.
Maori cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru said the video was “absolutely offensive and degrading” and that the nurses were “re-enacting blackface” by painting black streaks on their faces.
“What appears to be headbands is reminiscent of the culturally appropriated Maori dolls and a cultural stereotype that all Maori wear headbands and have facial tattoo,” said Taiuru.
“There is no reasonable excuse why any semi-educated person with access to the internet, from anywhere in the world, to not know that mocking another person’s culture is offensive,” he added, arguing that the video was “blatant cultural abuse that is verging on being racist.”
Taiuru also suggested that the performance may be a violation of the Haka Ka Mate Attribution Act of 2014.
“There appears to be a fixation with many people in the UK with Maori culture and what appears to be an inherited colonial perceived right to appropriate Maori culture with marketing of food and beverages and more so in particular to mocking the Haka,” complained Taiuru.
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