A powhiri for Mickey and Minnie Mouse in Auckland this week was a "joke" and devalued a national treasure, says Labour MP Shane Jones.

The traditional welcome for the characters ahead of their Disney on Ice show was "one haka step too far" and a debate on the use of the powhiri was now "long overdue", he told Fairfax media.

"We've got to stop guilt-tripping Pakeha that the powhiri is something of high customary value yet at the drop of a hat and for the clinking of some dollars, we'll turn on a powhiri for Mickey and Minnie."

Mr Jones said the welcome could have been handled differently and the use of the powhiri for Mickey and Minnie Mouse was not right.

"You gonna do one for Kermit the Frog? Well I don't know, he might have died. Pluto? Goofy? I mean when I saw that young warrior trying to hongi through that large bulbous plastic nose - it was just a step too far for my liking."

Mr Jones said members of the kapa haka group involved need to be wary that they do not become Disney creations themselves.

Head of Maori and Indigenous Studies at Canterbury University, Rawiri Taonui, said while there was a risk of "powhiri fatigue", they could be used on all occasions, provided they were done properly.

"If it was a parody of a powhiri, in terms of Goofy performing a powhiri, then that would probably be offensive but if it's honouring what those cartoon characters, those icons of the world of children represent, then it's probably quite a positive thing."