A US online retailer has caused a stir following the listing of items deemed culturally offensive including Maori shower curtains, pillows and duvet covers for sale.

The items, sold by Fine Art America, feature various images of Gottfried Lindauer portraits of Maori tribal leaders, face masks and depictions of historic colonial events.

One listed item - shower curtains - features a Maori fort under attack by colonials.

Art historian Ngahuia Te Awekotuku told RNZ Māori culture was being exploited, and it was appalling.

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Te Awekotuku said Māori images on teatowels and crockery were bad enough - but this was much worse.

The shower curtains feature historic Gottfried Lindauer portraits of tribal leaders.
The shower curtains feature historic Gottfried Lindauer portraits of tribal leaders.

"To actually see Wiremu Kingi as a shower person is absolutely extraordinary and profoundly hurtful. The arrogance of art producers in Western creators' commerce never fails to amaze me," she said.

"In traditional cultural terms, in the context of tikanga Māori of Māori values around the sanctity of the body and the intimacy of the bathroom, to have an ancestor as a shower curtain is profoundly insulting."

The replicated images were taken from original portraits painted in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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