Hāpai Te Hauora, supported by indigenous academics and public health experts, recently took a stand against the appropriation of Māori culture and the potential to cause harm through problem gambling.
Today we congratulate software developer Endorphina Ltd for doing the right thing and responding to the voice of Māori by removing a product which was offensive to our people. "We are especially pleased that this action has resulted in Endorphina Ltd implementing cultural awareness policies intended to ensure Māori and other indigenous people do not become the face of gambling promotion worldwide" said Anthony Hawke GM Māori Public Health at Hāpai Te Hauora "This is important to us at Hāpai as we advocate for gambling harm reduction every day. We at the front line witnessing the disproportionate harm to Māori caused by problem gambling.".
In January 2017 Hāpai Te Hauora was alerted to the presence of an online gaming product called 'Maori' created by Endorphina Ltd. The game includes images of tāne and wahine Māori, waka, pounamu, stylised bone carvings and a rendition of the haka Ka Mate. The format of the online game resembles a police machine and was available free of charge and without age restriction from Endorphina Ltd's website.
Together with our supporters and our legal advisors at Simpson Grierson we contacted Endorphina Ltd. We asked them to remove the game, to apologise, and to implement policies ensuring the protection of the integrity of all indigenous cultures it might seek to represent in its future products.
On 10 February 2017 we received notification from Endorphina Ltd that they had immediately removed the game, and would provide an apology within the week. Today, we received that apology and are delighted with the prompt response. As appropriate, we will look to support the company to develop cultural awareness policies to integrate with their development process which will minimise harm to Māori and other indigenous peoples who use Endorphina Ltd's products.
The apology also addressed the particular taonga of Ngāti Toa Rangatira and Ngāi Tahu:
“I would like to address specific apology to Ngāti Toa Rangatira, the iwi whose special relationship with the Ka Mate haka is protected by the Haka Ka Mate act and another specific apology to Ngāi Tahu, the iwi whose special relations with pounamu is protected by the Ngāi Tahu Act 1997 and the 2002 Pounamu Resource Management Plan.”
We congratulate Endorphina Ltd for taking this positive action" said Lance Norman CEO of Hāpai Te Hauora, "it often feels like our complaints about issues of cultural appropriation fall on deaf ears and it's a welcome change to see a company acknowledge their mistake and take steps to make right what's been done."
"We think this Czech Republic company should be an international example of how a misunderstanding around cultural representation can have positive consequences. We celebrate this response because it shows our people that we can create meaningful change and enhance understanding of our culture when we stand together and make our voices heard".