Fiat has used the haka to advertise one of its cars, despite advice that it is "culturally insensitive". Readers told us what they thought.
NOTE: This Readers' Views page is now closed. Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts.
Read the story and watch the ad
I think the ad was exciting, forceful and attention grabbing. It was different, well choreographed and did not I believe shed any bad light on Maori or their culture. In fact I think it promoted Maori in a modern exciting fashion.
- Andrew Gawlik
Where to start. The ad was poorly done. The little boy sticking his tongue out was no more offensive than the Belgian beer ad with the Scots showing their response, and certainly a lot less offensive than the NZ flag being thrown on the ground and shot. A comment referred to an Old World attitude toward cultures regarding this ad; I would have thought using women to perform the haka was pretty new world, and in today's world of gender equality highly appropriate.
The Romans were singing opera long before the haka was created. Does Dame Kiri Te Kanawa offend Italians by singing Italian opera? Smile and enjoy the ad!!
As an Italian currently in NZ I am surprised by the reaction here. I would have thought that New Zealanders would have appreciated the recognition of New Zealand this ad will help to facilitate in Italy and in the rest of Europe. Your haka is world famous and instantly recognisable as being Kiwi. It is like kangaroos for Australia. Yes, perhaps we were insensitive to aspects of the haka tradition. Yes, perhaps we could have used men rather than women. But, having spoken to friends and family back home about the ad, everyone back home loves the ad and many have expressed a keen desire to come and visit New Zealand. I am surprised that free publicity in Italy about New Zealand should engender such anger here.
I have mixed feelings about this. The use of 'Ka Mate' by Fiat exposes an example of Maoritanga to a huge international audience, and shows that what is unique about us is having an impact on the world stage. It is also true that advertising companies are no respecters of aesthetics or cultural values. Everyone's icons get used to sell everything. Do those of us who (used to) love Vivaldi's 'The Four Seasons' enjoy hearing it being used to sell everything from condos to condoms? How do the people of Italy feel about the commercialisation of their great artworks? Especially when many of them, such as 'The Last Supper' are as imbued with as deep a spiritual significance as the Haka is? I played the Fiat ad through twice. It's not an accurate or meaningful rendition of Ka Mate. I don't suppose Fiat cares. It will make them money.
- H Merriman
I am not a Maori but am a Kiwi and I love the Haka. I always make sure I see the beginning of a rugby match just for the Haka. I find it so exciting and something to call our own as NZers. I feel disappointed that the Italians have not showed any respect towards us or the Haka but I do think it is promoting NZ! Everyone who sees that will think of us!! Thats got to be at least a good thing! Go the Kiwis!
Well I had to watch the ad with an open mind to form an honest opinion...it's just a bad ad all round really. Done without the approval from the culture the Maori haka came from, and basically, it's a really poorly constructed ad anyway. The general quality of the ad is very low rate. Maori hakas are synonymous with New Zealand, I hope the rest of the world see this as nothing to do with New Zealand and their Maori culture.
As a woman who is not Maori but is a New Zealander by nationality, I find it really disrespectful for this ad to have gone ahead after being advised not too. Who do they think they are? Not very cultural minded people these Italians who would object if we were to do the same and disrespected their soccer team or the Pumas. But as Kiwis we have class and wouldn't go there, not like the people who are associated with Fiat who obviously have no class at all!
I saw this commercial a couple of weeks ago while in Italy and was horrified to see the exploitation of the haka. In the UK they use the haka to advertise sports on the ITV channel, but it is done with sensitivity. While the Fiat ad is meant to be humorous, they should still take the advice of NZers as to whether it is appropriate, and to go in the face of that advice is insulting.
Yes, this ad is bordering on the insensitive side, but, as they say, any publicity is good publicity. Hopefully it will reinforce NZ and the All Black image on the minds of those in Italy, and they will cruise over to NZ to check out the real thing (and spend a load of cash in doing so). Where is the harm in that?
- Tim M
The references in the ad spot were well understood in Italy even with the football world cup on. Their tv may be awful and tasteless but the advertising shows a wide range of humour based in many languages and cultures. There is comment in the italian rugby (www.rugby.it) website as well.
Has anyone noticed how ugly the car is? Fiat needs to pick up its game...
All over the word for hundreds of years people have been borrowing from Italian/Mediterranean influences and traditions. Italians are very proud of this and encourage it. Often as an ethnic group they are even satirised. Do they care? No. They embrace this. Immitation is the greatest form of flattery. An unnoticed and dormant culture is a deceased one. Long live Latin lovers and Maori warriors.
The Haka is important, but not so sacred or traditional. A few years ago it was hardly known, even in NZ. Now, due to the fame brought by rugby it's worldwide, but no-one is duty bound to respect it, no-one has a right to demand that others pay it the respect that some kiwis do. The Irish people don't get shirty over leprechauns, or the welsh, dipictions of dragons, or the English, their cultural icons... they say, hey, they mean this or that to us, and when you mimic it, it isn't nice, but if you don't get it, so what, it's reflection on you, not us. We bag out Italian culture all the time, and show them on TV as bad guy gangsters or ice cream sellers, but they don't whinge and whine... Fiat owes us nothing, and the Haka is an international possesion, not so different from every other cultural routine. We put it on the big stage, now we have to accept it when others poke fun at it. Get over it, and get a life!
- Pete Timothy
I am a very proud Kiwi Expat. I find it revolting that a country that is into their own heritage would trash another culture but that is the ignorance of the Italians. As for New Zealanders who find the Haka embarrassing maybe you should be looking to live somewhere else because New Zealand was all Maori till the Pakeha took it away. I live in Canada and right now there is a fight between the First Nation Indians and the Government over Indian land. It was reported in a paper here in Canada that maybe the Government should look to that little country at the end of the earth and follow what that small country of 4 million people have done with the Treaty of Waitangi.
- V. Crawford
So now various government departments and Te Toi Aotearoa are complaining about the use of the haka in a Fiat advert. Again the phrase "cultural insensitivity" gets rolled out. Every time anything even vaguely Maori-related gets used by another race or country, some self-opinionated cultural expert stands up and declares its use insensitive. Do you hear the English whingeing when old English folk songs get used in commercials? Do the Italians complain when someone gives a fake Italian name to a new pasta dish? Do the Greeks complain when a country decides to adopt democracy? No. Maori culture is not, and has never been, sacred. Some people need to get a sense of perspective, stop being so precious, stop whining. They're not protecting Maori culture, they're just making New Zealand a laughing stock.
- Dan Halford
Imitation is the greatest form of flattery. I found the ad hilarious, well thought out and not offensive in the least. I wish these PC idiots would join us in the year 2006 and learn to laugh and enjoy things for what they are...which in this case is a little harmless fun from an advertiser. Can't we all just get along?
- Raymond Skett
For goodness sake get a life over there. You are embarrassing all us Kiwis worldwide
I'm disappointed in the Italians - I thought they'd have more class.
- R J Campbell
Good on the Italians! Bit rich of the Te Toi Aotearoa general manager to say 'the Italians see us as tribal...' that is exactly what Maori are, aren't they, as they go on about their tribe and iwi continuously. The haka is embarrassing for any modern country to promote.
- Stuart Hope
KG's assertion that "the haka is awesome" is just an opinion. I know many NZers who feel otherwise. KG must deal with the fact that NZers are still entitled to hold and to voice our personal opinions, no matter how un-PC they may be perceived to be by others. My opinion is that the haka is ugly, usually inappropriate, and not representative of all NZers.
- R J Campbell
Let's import those Italian women to perform before the Bledisloe cup match. They will distract the Aussies and maybe we will win.
Very offensive, women doing the Maori Haka which only men are allowed to do. Bad Bad taste.
I'm surprised some people have such a big opinion when they don't know what the haka means, can't correctly recall it's history (or translation) and have never ever performed it. The haka is awesome. We have every right to be upset. We have a right to complain. We are allowed our basic human rights, just as devout Christians have their right to complain about the ignorant use of Mary. Those that do not like the haka should go live in another country, you are not a New Zealander, or Kiwi.
Does anybody other than "cultural extremists" actually care the Italians use the Haka in a car commercial? As a third generation New Zealander I certainly don't care, good on them I hope everybody everywhere uses the Haka in whatever capacity they want.
- Murray King
Agreed - the sensitivity to the Haka has long gone since it was used as a rugby promotion. This is a case of throwing stones from glass houses.
GMH asks if anyone in Italy actually knows what it is about. I wonder how many people even in NZ know it is about a Maori Chief being hidden by a bunch of women in a pit in the ground from pursuing warriors, wondering if he is going to die or live.
The ad was very well done. Maori do not own any aspect of dance or in fact any of the arts. Time they were made aware of that fact. I come from the mid 50s age group and an expat New Zealander.
I think the Haka in the Fiat ad is great. We should be proud that there is something about our culture that people want to imitate.
I say give the Haka to Fiat. It is revolting and barbaric. Does nothing for NZ.
BIG fuss about nothing.
Just another example of New Zealand being far too PC towards the Maori culture. If anything it promotes our country in a positive yet humorous light in a major OECD country. How often do we see adverts taking the pee out of Chinese or Indian accents, do we hear their Ambassadors complaining?
- Graham Patterson
I am not impressed that the Haka is being used in this way. I am not a great fan of the Haka myself but I see it as part of New Zealand culture and deserves respect. I'm worried now this ad is in the open it will get more publicity from people complaining about the use of the Haka. We all remember the 'bugger' adds because people complained about the bugger word being mentioned.
- John Wilson
Perhaps it could be pointed out to Fiat that part of the haka, "puhuru-uru" tells of Te Rauparaha cowering in a food storage pit with an elderly woman sqauatting above him to hide him. It is said the sight of the sun Te Rauparaha had at that time inspired him to rise again and overcome his adversities.
- Pat Plunket
New Zealand is a small place at the bottom of the earth. The Maori are a small part of modern New Zealand (in numbers anyway). The Italians are not threatened and therefore do not care. Should they? Or do New Zealanders care too much?
Obviously the three comments below are those of ... individuals without a culture of their own.
Actually I find the use of the Haka in most settings inaproriate and rude. It is rude when greeting people or opposing sports teams. It is inappropriate at weddings, funerals, and openings. Personally I am embarrassed every time the Haka is done and think it should be saved for cultural demonstrations/shows. I don't care if the Italians use it. Everyone else is.
Cultural insensitivity, or good advertising, or does anybody in Italy actually know what the song is all about??
You are using haka to promote rugby. So what.