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.”

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Filed under: New Zealand
soundoff (282 Responses)
  1. David

    Two cannibals are eating a clown, one turns to the other and says 'hey, does this taste funny to you?'. THATS a cannibal joke.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  2. WAYbetterTHANyou

    Did somebody compare this to white slave owners? LOL wish we still owned the dark little buggers. That way after a week of hard work I'm not out mowing the lawn on the weekend. I'm a fat lazy american that has everything else handed to me right? Thats the thinking there? Never mind their own people sold them off in that case. Irrelevant. GO SUCK OBAMAS DICK A LITTLE HARDER!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:14 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter

    To the Tuhoe, a tribe of Maori of New Zealand, Vote for me and I promise that I will make him "EAT" his own words. And, then I will spit him out.

    Did someone say ears? I would like to order a pair of feet along with side of ears.
    Oh, waiter! Do you have any Grey Poupon? Feet taste better with a little Grey Poupon.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:15 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MichaelB

    Why DON'T cannibals eat clowns?

    Because a mime is a terrible thing to waste.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:18 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Xception

    I'm not sure saying they have never been cannibals is accurate.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Raven

    Will be using this for a school project 😀

    May 13, 2010 at 3:22 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hannibal 'the Cannibal' Lecter

    Get a Clue people!!! Even I can see the humor in all of this


    May 13, 2010 at 3:23 pm | Report abuse |
  8. mmm dinner

    my family has maori blood in our vains... my family jokes about eating people all the time. After all they are tastey.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm | Report abuse |
  9. To WAYbetterTHANyou

    Hey 'WAYbetterTHANyou' Did you steal that Obama reference from Season 03 Episode 1 of 'The Boondocks' cartoon because it was a song.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:27 pm | Report abuse |
  10. YoYo

    I bet this controversy has been eating at the Prime Minister all week.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Real Deal

    If a cannibal eats a chinaman does he get hungry an hour later?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:29 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cris

    Do you think his aide told him, "Yeah, tell the joke. What's the worst that can happen? They can't kill ya and eat ya."

    May 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  13. vango

    Two cannibals were eating a guy, starting at each end, and one says to the other, "Man, I'm having a ball." The other replies, "Slow down, you're eating too fast,."

    May 13, 2010 at 3:32 pm | Report abuse |
  14. JW in Missouri

    Spoken like a true National Party hero...

    May 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Meat Balls

    Did you consider visiting New Zealand for a change? Don't worry about your lawn. All you need is a one-way ticket and a bottle of Chianti (that is italian for red wine – it goes well with white meat).

    May 13, 2010 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
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