PRINCESS Cruises have been accused of “blatant racism” after it used non-Maori staff to give a traditional welcome to guests.
The stunt has been branded “silly, frustrating and insulting, all at the same time” after photos of tourists posing with the ‘fake Maoris’ surfaced online.
The photos were taken on December 2, shortly after Golden Princess arrived at the Port of Tauranga, in New Zealand’s North Island according to NZ Herald.
One showed several men wearing grass skirts with black lines painted on their face, while another showed tourists posing with the men.
It’s believed to have been part of a powhiri – a traditional welcome ceremony.
The photos have sparked outrage after they were shared online.
On the popular Steve the Maori Facebook page, he wrote: “A lot of Cruise companies employ local Maori Cultural groups to sing or perform dances etc, welcoming travellers to shore but in this situation Princess Cruises (purely an assumption based off the branding of the tent) 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.”
Mana whenua Ngai Te Rangi chief executive Paora Stanley told NZ Herald: “It is really disappointing. Silly, frustrating and insulting, all at the same time.”
Instead, the traditional welcome has been treated like a “pantomime”.
While Maori cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru told the outlet that it was “blatant racism and exploitation of Māori culture and of staff by the company”.
A spokesperson for the cruise line confirmed that the incident took place.
They told Sun Online Travel: “We took immediate steps to address this sensitive situation. 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 apologise unreservedly for what has happened.”
Earlier this year, a theme park decided to shut down one of its rides after guests called it a “racist Africa cruise”.
While another park was forced to close down a new ride because people realised that it looked like flying swastikas once in the air.
Last month, a 16-year-old girl revealed that a white passenger refused to sit next to her because she was black.