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. ben

    Im a kiwi and i rekon its funny.

    May 13, 2010 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  2. john

    I won't worry. In about 25 more years, the whites in US will be the minority. When that happen, they will get the brunt of all jokes.

    May 13, 2010 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. doogle rathmore

    It sounded pretty funny to me..............Heck, Bush mis-spoke a couple of times too............

    May 13, 2010 at 6:59 pm | Report abuse |
  4. stevedee

    3 cannibals were going to eat their captive.
    The 1st cannibal said he'll have a arm
    The 2nd cannibal said he'll have a leg
    The 3rd cannibal said he'll just have a ball.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:02 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Hannibal Lecter

    Good evening, Clarice.

    A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  6. stevedee

    The Tuhoe just published a book. It's called "To Serve Human"

    May 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Gonzo

    The arrogance and deep seated bigotry of British colonies have towards the native population they have decimated over the centuries is sickening. There was much cannibalism in European societies as anywhere else in the world! Wearing tight pressed suit and tie doesn't mask your true nature.

    The irony is that you live in a society that willingly denies portion of the population a bright future, that is worse that cannibalism.

    Your people are a herd who had the tools of administration and all the inventions it had spawn, none your really invented but just employed it against those who didn't have. The parts of the world where you robbed native population of their land and livelihood didn't have these tools. You have no genuine principles, and from looking at recent international financial woes it is apparent that you are just better organized Hyena clan; at the end of the day you use the strengths of the masses and always watch out for your individual belly.

    There was a joke we used when we were children, you can tell a coward by how he treats his fight opponent, when the coward had the better side of the fight he often over-beats his opponent and won't stop until other kids stepped in and stopped the fight.

    This is very true when it comes to the people who descended from British colonies, they went around the world and mercilessly wiped out any aspiration of the native populations, and all they have brought to the world is duplication of the same formula of planet exploitation. So is our planet really suffering from cancer? Are these people the cancer cells?

    May 13, 2010 at 7:06 pm | Report abuse |
  8. fantazamaraz

    The REAL cannibals are the white settlers and their descendants who came, saw and stole the Maoris land, murdered them and who have ruthlessly opressed them to this day !


    May 13, 2010 at 7:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Kam

    Tacky yet typical.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:08 pm | Report abuse |
  10. ben

    gonzo youve got no idea what your on about mate

    May 13, 2010 at 7:15 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Dan NZ

    yea gonzo, you have no idea

    May 13, 2010 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Keith Johannson

    Lighten up Francis! What's eating you guys anyway?

    May 13, 2010 at 7:21 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Avocado

    Do cannibals eat kiwis?

    May 13, 2010 at 7:25 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Gesundheit_451

    It's not a joke if the people the comment is aimed at aren't laughing. And I see nothing to be proud of in a gross display of bad manners. You don't have to be politically correct to have some decorum, class, and good taste. Someone who is called a prime minister should be able to do better than the obvious unskilled labor commenting on this board. Those of you who are so dismissive of native populations should remember that they were there first. Intelligent people practice what's called empathy (look it up NoMercy, et. al.). How would you feel if a group of people invaded your land, took it from you, passed laws that made you a second class citizen in your own nation, and basically took the best of everything while leaving you to live in squalor? Do you think that's worth complaining about? God forbid someone should stand up for their rights, but what do you bet that NoMercy and his buddies are down at Wal Mart complaining away when their camping gear doesn't work right. Of course, it does help if you can read the instructions, but I digress. The low-brow comments demonstrate why we need a little chlorine in the gene pool. Yes, make your nasty comments and insults, but considering the source...well, let's just say I won't lose any sleep over it if someone with the IQ of a fern doesn't like me. I'm becoming more and more a believer in requiring tests before allowing blue-collar people and the lower classes to vote or breed. We need enough of you to do the dirty work, but for the love of God, stop getting above yourselves. You see, there are those of us who feel the same about you as you feel about minorities. There is always someone who thinks they're better than you are. Keep that in mind next time before you pass judgement or cast the first stone.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ok Sounds good

    Thats actually kinda funny.
    Same thing for the American punk gang members we have here in the states, anyways the same mentality.

    May 13, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
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