German insurer offends Maori culture

By | 15/05/2017

The German insurance provider ARAG  has used the traditional Haka warrior dance of New Zealand’s Maori, fueling hefty criticism in social media. Criticism on ARAG’s YouTube channel (check the comments below the video) as well as later on on Facebook and Twitter labelled the ad as inappropriate cultural appropriation, some even claimed it to be evidence for “typical” German disrespect for other cultures. While the ad itself is only available in German language (with people shouting: “I want my driving license!”, “I will be a father!”, “I want this job!”), a lot of kiwis commented right on the platform, for example:

“As a New Zealand Maori living in Germany I am deeply offended by this- the trivialisation of a sacred piece of culture. Please remove this. This is not “inspired by” as you put it. It’s a direct rip off. It’s disgraceful of your company to use bits and pieces of indigenous culture to suit your needs without paying a true tribute to the origins and the people. I also see that you are trying to cash in as it were, on the German people’s love of New Zealand. This could have been done in a sensitive way, yet your marketing team decided to watch a few YouTube videos and think they could encompass a Haka. Research what a Haka is, research the ihi and wihi. Research my people and our struggles and then try and make an advert.”
ARAG reacted fairly quickly within the comment section, stating that (translated from German):

” We are closely following the discussion regarding our brand commercial and we respect the diverse opinions about it. The choreography for this commercial was indeed inspired by the Haka dance: People encourage each other to address their life challenges and use elements of the dance. With its rhythm, the impressive gestures and mimics, it projects power and decisiveness – exactly the messages that we seek to transfer. In order to acknowledge the serious nature of the dance and to achieve an appropriate projection, we worked with a dedicated Haka expert. Best regards, the ARAG team”

 So far that is the only reaction by the company. This might be due to the fact that the critical discussion is held mostly within a foreign audience – in New Zealand, where the topic received prominent newspaper coverage. Check the commercial out yourself and let me know your views in the comment section below!



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