So cheap caricatures don’t violate Tikanga Maori


A green smiling tiki will replace the ubiquitous yellow smiley face in the first Maori emoji keyboard.

Rotorua visitor attraction Te Puia has developed Emotiki, a 150-character emoji keyboard with distinctly Maori icons ranging from piupiu (flax skirts) and hangi, to kete and koura (crayfish).

A small selection of moving emotikis will include poi and taiaha moves, and a winking tiki.

Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson-Crean, said emoji was now a popular part of daily digital language, but there were limited New Zealand emoticons.

So let’s commercialise some more Maori culture then. 

Atkinson-Crean said the idea for emotiki came from watching youngsters at kapa haka competitions celebrating their performances on social media.

“All they could use were expressions and symbols from other countries. We wanted to give them another form of this language with Māori culture emotikis for an opportunity to express themselves.”

Some expressions would be quickly interpreted across cultures. Others, such as pūkana (fierce facial expression used in haka), were uniquely Māori.

Te Puia elders were consulted over the concept, Atkinson-Crean said.

“They loved them and gave us their blessing that we were on the right track.

“We’ve purposely made emotikis free so they can be used with no barriers by all people, not only Māori and not just New Zealanders. That said, we hope Māori and Kiwis in general really embrace these cool little guys.”

Interesting concept.  Whenever someone “Kiwi” does haka without prior approval, there is a huge uproar.  Any kind of Maori artifact and it has to ‘come home’ to New Zealand where it can be with its ancestors.   If you want to dig a culvert you have to make sure the local taniwha is appeased.

But to use these emotiki, apparently is just fine.

Let’s give them a spin:

Eh, did you hear?  Moko died Selection_092



He was killed by his whanauSelection_093



Hush!!! Don’t talk.  You RACIST Selection_094





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  • Pointing out the obvious
    1 – it’s not commercialisation when Maori do it
    2 – it’s only commercialisation when someone else does it and they are not getting a cut

  • luke

    I think they missed this one…

  • haysel

    Why do I think they all look stoned ?

  • XCIA

    Then you have Councillor Bonita Bigham who says naming a lounge in Hawera’s TSB Hub sports complex Camberwell was irrelevant to the area. Ngati Ruanui should have been consulted over the name as they were the original owners of the land. All this from a woman named after a banana.

  • rrm22

    As a tribal organisation surely the tiki face is their IP? Therefore they get to use it and they don’t owe anyone anything for using it.
    I thought this was a right blog..? This is BASIC property rights.

    • WBC

      In that case they’ll need to pay licensing fees to China do to long established precedent in being the primary producer and therefore rightful owner of the IP.

    • Nige.

      You think this is a right blog? Like there is a line to tow?

      No. Stick around and you’ll see its more of an anti hypocrisy blog.

  • WBC

    I think we need to relax a little about this. After all they’re not selling out Maori culture.

    The green Tiki has primarily been a Chinese item since I was a kid. The most faithful renditions are made of plastic and come with a “made in China” sticker of authenticity on the back.

    What we should really be seeking in order to avoid offence is comment from Beijing.

  • Joe Banana

    The haka was bestowed by maori to the 1924 All Black Invincibles
    No other sport team has had this given yet plastic maori appear to allow this and DEMAND PAYMENT FOR ALLEGED PRIVILAGE
    wake up maori soon us other people will make your cause redundant

  • Gazza

    “…free so they can be used with no barriers by all people” yeah right, being a skinny white boy from West Auckland if i get caught using these I am going to get accused of Culture Appropriation

  • PhantomsDoc

    The almost got one right

    • Uncle Bully

      What does that mean? “Just cook the man some f*****g eggs”?

  • Mark

    I think they are great,I’ll be using them when they become available in July.

  • Dave

    Absolutely brilliant

  • jimknowsall

    Aside from this trivial issue, I fail to see why Maori seem incapable of abiding by international norms concerning IP. The rules of copyright, trademark and patents are clear. Most pertinently with relation to actions such as wai 262 is the apparent ignorance of the concept of prior art.

  • yoyoyo

    this article misses one key point.

    as a white hetro middle aged male how do I get these for my phone?