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Unqualified 'charlatans' teaching haka overseas is the 'worst type of profiteering and cultural appropriation' - Dr Ella Henry

A Māori cultural advisor has warned those teaching haka overseas that they need to be qualified and to understand what they are teaching, otherwise they are participating in the "worst type of profiteering and cultural appropriation".

Dr Ella Henry of AUT, speaking this morning to TVNZ1's Breakfast programme, has weighed in after Kane Mutu Harnett, who is based in Denmark, said he is looking to take legal action to stop fake instructors from tarnishing the reputation of Māori culture.

Many services have popped up abroad - run by Māori and non-Māori - offering haka workshops to corporate clients, and Mr Mutu Harnett said unqualified haka tutors are ripping off and misusing the haka for money.

Dr Henry said those who not skilled in the art, and those who don't understand the spirit behind the haka, but teach it anyway, are enabling the "worst type of profiteering and cultural appropriation".

"I think it's really exciting about this is that people in Germany want to learn the haka [and that] people in Europe find it of enough value that they'd like to do it," she said.

"The haka is invading the world.

"It's when you abuse it and when you do it badly and you don't understand the spirit behind it, that it's appropriation."

Dr Henry said she was glad the debate had come to light on this topic, and that she hoped it would help to give validation to the true teachers of Māori, while exposing the "charlatans".

She said a haka is "an expression of unity and strength and pride", and that it should be shared by those qualified to do so.

"The more we share it the more robust our culture is ... it's something we want to share," she said.

Dr Ella Henry says while it's good that people in Europe want to learn a haka, the tutors need to be qualified. Source: Breakfast