MP for Waiariki and co-leader of Te Paati Māori, Rawiri Waititi – says the process that has seen the Bay of Plenty
District Health Board communications botch, should be the focus of investigation.
These comments come from a line of digital and print communications from the DHB that depict mataora on COVID-19
“As a person with a mataora, I think the use of it on a virus is completely inappropriate. A mataora is symbolic of life
– tikanga, whakapapa, where you come from, and especially your tīpuna. They are about peace, contribution, oranga and
the revitalisation of our culture. The fact that the sacredness of mataora is being associated with a virus that is
killing millions of people is an absolute disgrace.
“Considering COVID-19 has the potential to take life, sums up its misuse in the manner in which it has been used. It is
disappointing to see, however the concern is around the process in which this was allowed.
“It has the potential to taint the art form and especially the symbolic meaning behind mataora and Ta Moko. To wear
mataora is to be committed to Te Ao Maori. Viruses and disease like COVID-19, have no whakapapa and connection to us or
mataora - so the depictions are completely wrong in the first place.
“We know that Māori are statistically more likely to be disproportionately affected by COVID-19. We also know that
historically, the health system has failed Māori. Using symbolism from Te Ao Māori that puts mataroa/tāmoko on a cartoon
COVID-19 virus, is not only offensive, but could also potentially reinforce our people’s distrust in the health system.
“Whilst it is good that organisations are trying to embrace Te Ao Maori, this is a prime example of what happens when
the correct processes aren’t followed. This shouldn’t be about blaming each other; it should be about looking at the
process in which the graphics were approved.
“This isn’t just one agency involved, we’re talking numerous agencies including Government departments who simply should
“I urge the parties involved to not throw each-other under the bus, but instead look to address what went wrong in terms
of their internal process. This way all parties involved will follow proper process with correct tikanga that embraces
Te Ao Māori in a respectful manner moving forward. I hope the CEO simply doesn’t pass the buck onto other organisations
such as Toi Te Ora and Te Pare o Toi.
“My office has requested a hui with the CEO of the DHB, to better understand what processes were in play that allowed
for this to occur.