David Fisher

David Fisher is a senior reporter for the NZ Herald.

Sheep and haka on NZ filming blacklist

Foreign television shows are to be steered away from filming sheep. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Foreign television shows are to be steered away from filming sheep. Photo / Mark Mitchell

Foreign television shows are to be steered away from filming sheep and Maori culture after tourism bosses complained they portray New Zealand in a disappointing and inappropriate manner.

Images of sheep should be "blacklisted" and scenes of Maori culture treated with "extreme caution", an internal report by Tourism New Zealand said following filming in New Zealand for America's Next Top Model in 2010.

The project was supported by Tourism New Zealand because it was expected to drive international interest in the country.

Although an internal review found media coverage positive and leading to "compelling imagery of a cultural experience", it also stated the show "wasn't a natural fit with our messaging" and any repeat would require "greater control over preventing undesirable imagery being broadcast".

"Too much imagery featuring rural landscapes with sheep was a disappointment," the review said. "Next time we will have a 'blacklist' of banned imagery written into the contract so we will have tighter control.

"A big disappointment was the number of rural scenes in the final cut."

It also warned: "It is very difficult to feature Maori culture in American reality TV in a culturally appropriate and respectful way. This should be treated with extreme caution in the future as there is no way to guarantee the outcome."

In one challenge, the contestants had to strike a pose with a sheep. The young women also affected a range of facial expressions when greeted by a haka on Mt Eden.

A spokesman for Tourism Minister John Key said: "Film and television production in New Zealand remain very important ways to get our tourism message out to the world."

Film and television maker Tainui Stephens, who has worked on major foreign productions involving Maori culture, said the basis had to be knowledge and respect.

"We can get too precious about Maori culture. You can do anything you want with Maori culture as long as it is rooted in integrity and mana."

The details of the Tourism NZ report were released to the Herald under the Official Information Act.

- NZ Herald

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