Miss Horowhenua Miss Horowhenua CREDIT: Miss Universe

Miss Universe New Zealand pageant says haka criticism exaggerated

Saturday 12 July 2008, 11:46PM
By JY&A Media

Pageant questions APN’s motives when pukana photographs were published last month by Fairfax.

Lucire publisher Jack Yan, speaking on behalf of the Miss Universe New Zealand pageant, says he and pageant director Val Lott are surprised at a New Zealand Herald article over a few haka moves performed by winner Samantha Powell at the Vietnam finals.

‘Anyone who knows Sam will know that this was performed with a bit of naïveté and with good intentions, by someone proud of her country,’ he says.

Mr Yan questions the timing of the article—published just before the final tonight—when photographs of Miss Powell performing the pukana at the Miss Universe pageant in Nha Trong, Vietnam were out in June, published in the Fairfax Press.

‘If you read the Herald story about the matter, you’d think Sam had created some great cultural chasm. I doubt that this is accurate. Tongues have certainly not been “wagging”—an anti-Mori headline if ever I saw one.

‘It sounds like another misguided tall-poppy attack by certain parties trying to tarnish our own country’s chances,’ he says.

‘It’s a storm in a teacup. Some will see Sam’s haka as a faux pas and others will see the national pride behind it.

Mr Yan says it is the ‘duty’ of New Zealanders to promote Mori culture when abroad. ‘The alternative that I have already lived through would be to pretend New Zealand is an old British colonial outpost. I don’t want a return to those days. We should promote and defend Mori culture as New Zealand citizens.

‘Sometimes, because we have not been immersed in the culture, we err. When the one who errs is not of our own race, we forgive and we educate,’ he says. ‘We certainly don’t pull down our own just before the final.

‘Had the media done this to the All Blacks a day before an international match, they would have been accused of being unpatriotic.’

Through the Australian-listed APN News & Media Ltd., The New Zealand Herald is part-owned by Dublin, Ireland-based Independent News & Media.

The pageant final is on Sunday night and both Mr Yan and Ms Lott say they wish Miss Powell every success at Miss Universe.