May 13th, 2010
10:49 AM ET

New Zealand P.M. criticized for comparing tribe to cannibals

John Key made a joke at a dinner that one Maori tribe may have made him the main course.

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key was facing heavy criticism Thursday after making a cannibalistic comment about a Maori tribe for the second time in a week.

Key angered the Tuhoe, a tribe of Maori, on Monday after ruling out turning over part of a national park to the tribe as part of a treaty settlement, according to a Radio New Zealand report.

On Tuesday, during a dinner meeting with another Maori tribe, the Ngati Porou, Key said he was glad he was with them instead of with the Tuhoe, who would have made him the main course. He repeated the remark as a joke during a meeting with tourism officials in Auckland on Thursday.

"The good news is that I was having dinner with Ngati Porou as opposed to their neighbouring iwi, which is Tuhoe, in which case I would have been dinner, which wouldn't have been quite so attractive," Key was quoted as saying.

Asked later about the remark, Key said he was sure the Tuhoe would get the joke, Radio New Zealand reported. The prime minister’s office characterized the remark as flippant and light-hearted, according to a New Zealand Herald report.

Key later issued an apology. "Ah look, it was a light-hearted joke, a bit of self-deprecating humour - but if anyone is offended, then I deeply apologise," Radio New Zealand quoted him as saying.

But Tuhoe chief negotiator Tamati Kruger wasn’t laughing or very forgiving.

"I'm just astounded that the prime minister can make light of what we regard as a very, very serious situation regarding ... our future relationships with the Crown. I don't think it's becoming at all of a prime minister," Radio New Zealand quoted Kruger as saying.

Kruger went further in the New Zealand Herald report.

"It gives me the sense that whatever we say or do he will never, ever take it seriously,” Kruger said in the Herald report. "He is affirming a rigidness which is not really in the spirit of good faith negotiations. He is really going to force Tuhoe into a position that makes us look like the bad guys.”

Post by:
Filed under: New Zealand
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. Wes410

    This guy obviously doesn't understand what the words, "Self-deprecating" means....

    May 13, 2010 at 11:15 am | Report abuse |
  2. NoMercy

    Minority whiners are the same all over the world. Sick.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:18 am | Report abuse |
  3. stevec

    Well, joke or not, it looks like they are going to BBQ John Key after all.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  4. Nick

    After "making a cannibalistic comment"??? Why don't you learn to write? Oh wait, it's CNN.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:21 am | Report abuse |
  5. Sarah

    So, who do cannibals eat? Slaves? Babies? I don't know... but it creeps me out. I don't blame Key, cause I would never, in a million years, hang out with someone who thinks human flesh is appealing.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
  6. GGG

    Bite me.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:29 am | Report abuse |
  7. Steve

    Ummmm, Sarah....the actual point of the WHOLE article is that they arent cannibals, and they never have been. man, comprehension is tricky huh?

    May 13, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  8. Justin Case

    What did one cannibal say to the other after they ate the clown?

    "Did he taste funny to you?"

    May 13, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  9. BC

    Why don't cannibals eat clowns??
    A. They taste funny...........

    May 13, 2010 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  10. Justin Case

    hahahahaha! Hey BC, I beat you to the punchline! =)

    May 13, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  11. Fuyuko

    People need to develop thicker skins.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
  12. Delicious Badge

    Why didn't the cannibal eat the clown?

    A. They actually did eat the clown because they were starving and did not care about his occupation

    May 13, 2010 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  13. johnhq

    The Maoris gave up cannibalism before the Whites gave up pointing guns at the Maoris and removing them from their lands. Perhaps it was the chief of the tribe who should fear for his life.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
  14. Hexdragon

    If it was an "entertainer" no one would have said anything. But this guy is in the candy stealing game. He should know better...

    May 13, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
  15. Jude

    Poeple in power continue to have such ignorant understanding of humans. It's as close to being a school house dunce bully as we can have. Idiots in power as usual for our childeren to emulate.

    May 13, 2010 at 11:51 am | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19