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. mrlgh

    Honestly people! It was a joke (not a good one) but a joke. I have not idea what's EATING YOU! hahahahaha

    May 13, 2010 at 3:36 pm | Report abuse |
  2. AJ

    people have become sooooo uptight, it's sad nobody can take a joke anymore. Everywhere you look someone is offended about something, no matter how stupid it is.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Fenarkleman

    Bigots are the same all over the world.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Cris

    I just want to know where are all the Donner Party jokes?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:39 pm | Report abuse |
  5. JR

    Brought to you by CNN. They will comb the world to give Roland a chance to shoot from the hip.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:43 pm | Report abuse |
  6. blah

    @to joanna your land? and you pay how much tax on your land i know i pay tax on my land and we pay for yours too where does all this money come from the white man so therefore we pay for it along with the power it takes to run it little fire water for "your land" is all it took for it to become "our" land

    May 13, 2010 at 3:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gecko

    Hey NoMercy, your comment sounds like you're white - why don't you disguise yourself as a black man, walk into some banks, some stores, see what it's like?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:46 pm | Report abuse |
  8. bigbiz

    He needs to be prosecuted for "joke speech"
    I am sure every leftist will agree that we all love a good joke as long as it isn't funny.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  9. tahitian prince

    i'm from Tahiti and of polynesian descent who are cousins to the maori , i didn't know i was a cannibal until i saw a big boobed blonde!!! mouthwatering!!!!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  10. KentAllard

    Aussies tend to have super humor that is easily misunderstood as lack of tact. :p

    May 13, 2010 at 3:55 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Richard

    Wait What?! The Maori tribe was KNOWN for their canablisim. They would eat the bodies of rival tribes in an attempt to gain greater "mana". This is not hear-say this is a fact. They do not practice it anymore as it is illegal but it was done by them.

    TL;DR Learn2History.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:57 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Cliff

    Until now, I had no idea we had exported our PC wackos.

    NZ, I apologize for the "stupidity syndrome" America shipped to you.

    SUGGESTION: Send their sorry butts packin'..maybe to Fiji!

    May 13, 2010 at 3:58 pm | Report abuse |
  13. cg

    Did you hear about the cannibal who passed his friend on the street...

    May 13, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kiwi

    Well done John. We are sick & tired of hearing we want compensation from a militant minority. How come you want it now when the value is so high. Get a job & earn a living like honest Kiwi's do instead of whinging.

    May 13, 2010 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Chaos

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

    Yeah, how 'sick' of them to be upset when they are belittled.

    May 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm | Report abuse |
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