NHS nurses apologise after being accused of 'cultural abuse' for traditional Maori dance video

NHS nurses apologise after being accused of 'cultural abuse' for traditional Maori dance video

NHS nurses accused of "cultural abuse" for performing the haka in a viral Twitter video have apologised for causing offence.

Nurses at the Tavistock Day Case Theatre in Devon wore white headbands and stripes of black face paint whilst performing the ceremonial Māori dance and chanting "you'll never beat us" at images of the coronavirus.

The now-deleted video was branded "blatant cultural abuse that is verging on being racist" by Māori expert Tania Ka'ai in a statement to Newshub. The video also caused a storm on Twitter, where it was labelled "bizarre" and accused of "mocking" Māori culture.

In response, the Tavistock Day Case Theatre have said they are "really sorry if our choice of delivery caused offence".

We want to offer a wholehearted apology to those we offended with a video we posted on Twitter at the weekend. The video was intended as a show of our commitment as Livewell Southwest nurses to continue to work hard and care for people as we fight coronavirus.

We've really enjoyed seeing the video messages from nursing colleagues up and down the country and we are really sorry that our choice of delivery caused offence. Upsetting anyone was the last thing we wanted to do.

This was not the only video of healthcare workers performing a version of the haka to be posted to Twitter in recent days.

indy100reported that radiographers from Torbay Hospital in Devon filmed themselves doing something similar, which they said was to help get them "hyped for another shift fighting Covid-19".

Whilst healthcare workers are showing enormous resilience and bravery whilst treating coronavirus patients, the haka is not the appropriate way to help them prepare for this.

As Tania Ka'ai explained to Newshub:

Haka are not about being simply angry at the world. They are a fierce display of a tribe's pride, strength and unity. 

This is an example of  the dominant Western culture trivialising an aspect of Māori culture and abusing our language which has struggled to survive since the signing of Te Tiriti o Waitangi in 1840.

Now that this has again been cleared up, there really is no excuse for appropriating the culture of an oppressed indigenous people.

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