Princess Cruises has issued an apology for its “cultural insensitivity” after photos of non-native workers dressed in Maori garb surfaced on social media.
Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand.
A Facebook user identified as Steve the Maori called attention to the situation in a Sunday post featuring photos of people in what appeared to be an attempt to mimic Maori dress and makeup at a Princess Cruises tent at the Port of Tauranga. He noted that cruise lines often hire local Maori cultural groups to sing or perform dances to welcome cruisers to shore.
“In this situation Princess Cruises … are using their own non NZ staff, with careless scribbles on their faces wearing skirts which do not depict Maori culture which I personally find a disgrace.”
He called it a “deplorable” ploy and “a racist attempt to save money on local performers.”
Princess Cruises issued a swift apology.
“We took immediate steps to address this sensitive situation,” Princess spokesperson Negin Kamali told USA TODAY in a statement. “After being made aware of the situation, the ship’s management team took action to withdraw the crew members from the area to prevent any further possibility of cultural insensitivity. We give a complete assurance that no offence was ever intended and we apologize unreservedly for what has happened.”
According to CruiseMapper, Princess’ Ruby Princess cruise ship docked in Tauranga Saturday. The Golden Princess and Sea Princess were set to arrive Monday and Tuesday, respectively.
The Port of Tauranga is located on the east coast of New Zealand’s North Island and is a gateway to the popular geothermal wonderland of Rotorua.
Some social media users described the situation as “shameful” cultural appropriation.
“Not only is this blatant cultural misappropriation but they were ripping off/scamming their own passengers,” one commenter wrote. “Shameful behaviour”
The Maori haka ceremonial war dance is known worldwide. Sports fans may have witnessed versions of the haka before rugby, soccer and football games.
Jason Momoa, who is Hawaiian, performed a haka at the “Aquaman” premiere last year.
Contributing: David Oliver, USA TODAY; Aldo Giovanni Amato, Delaware News Journal
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