A controversial photoshoot for a French magazine which features a rugby player wearing a fake moko has been met with outrage from some quarters.
One correspondent to tvnz.co.nz branded Alexis Palisson's topless pose on the front cover of Tetu - a bimonthly magazine catering for France's gay and lesbian community - a "mistake".
"Is he representing any particular iwi and if so has he got the moko correct and has he obtained permission from the iwi concerned (if there is one connected to the moko) to have this moko? I am pakeha but even I know that the moko represents your iwi affiliation and must be worn with the greatest humility and respect!" 'Whytewolf' wrote on the TVNZ messageboard.
Moko tell the story of family and tribal affiliations, and are often sacred. Messageboard contributor said they are not something that should be taken lightly.
"Moko is not just a skin scribble it is something that is supposed to be earnt," Whaea M said.
"I know a lot of respected Maori that have waited for the right time to take the journey for ta moko. There is a story in each moko and that story pertains to each individual. How would these non Maori like their artwork exploited and the meaning changed and used for monetary gain!"
Palisson was also photographed with Maori tattoos across his torso and wielding a traditional taiaha.
In the magazine article, he said: "For me, Maori tattoos are like the haka - a tradition that I respect, that also helps to make rugby more popular."
But there are angry comments also on a Facebook page for the French star.
"Intellectual property Alexis why would you think that wearing Moko was a tribute to my people you have no right to wear this in the name of money mate," one person commented.
Broadcaster Willie Jackson told ONE News the photoshoot was an example of New Zealand culture being ripped off.
"Our culture gets bastardised, that's what happens - it's not right, it's not fair, and we're getting portrayed in the wrong manner," he said.
"Frankly we just get sick of the arrogance shown by people overseas. Why don't they go through the correct process."
However his fellow broadcaster John Tamihere said last night he had no problem with it, and believed it was good publicity for New Zealand ahead of the Rugby World Cup.
Others agree and messages to TVNZ describe the response to the photoshoot as an over-reaction.
"NZ Maori/Kiwis should feel proud that these people are wanting to wear Maori designs, embrace it," 'Addertive' said.
"As a Maori in NZ, I have no problem with this. As long as it is not taking the p**s, then why should we care?" wrote Ernest Cunningham.
Palisson says he regrets causing any offence and sees the tattoos as a tradition he respects.
Currently, there is no legislation in New Zealand to prevent overseas "exploitation" of Maori designs and images, Auckland intellectual property consultant Murray Stott told the Herald on Sunday.
A recent Waitangi Tribunal report recommended law changes protecting intellectual property, and Maori culture and heritage.
However, it remains unclear how this would apply to overseas use.
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