The New Zealand Dental Association (NZDA) has joined forces with The Māori Dental Association and Hāpai Te Hauora to lambast Coca-Cola for the use of Te Reo Māori in a new marketing campaign.
The three organisations released a joint statement today calling the use of slogans including "Share a Coke with Whānau" and "Share a Coke with Kuia" cynical and exploitative of "poor Māori oral health statistics, and high rates of diabetes".
“This has shades of the tobacco industry here – a subversive insidious way to connect with people who suffer a disproportionate amount of dental disease and harm from a public health perspective,” said NZDA sugary drink spokesperson Dr Rob Beaglehole.
“Unfortunately, this action by Coca-Cola shows us that violent acts of colonisation continue unopposed. They’ve just got a new vehicle in the new form of multinational companies."
Hāpai Te Hauora – Māori Public Health – CEO Selah Hart agrees with the NZDA's stance.
"This corporation which cares nothing for our mokopuna, our kuia and kaumātua, has appropriated our language to make a profit.
"Worse - they’ve singled out one of the worst areas of inequity in health outcomes - our whānau’s oral health. They should be ashamed," she said.
A Coca-Cola spokesperson told Stuff its "Share a Coke" campaign reflects "the diversity of cultures in Aotearoa today" and features a range of names and themes, such as "Share a Coke with Dad".
"We worked hard to ensure we represented many popular names as well as reflect the diversity of cultures in Aotearoa today," the Coke spokesperson told Stuff.
"We felt it wouldn't be right to dismiss anyone's name due to ethnicity."