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)

    Whats the big deal. Some Maori tribes are know to have eaten their enemy that they have vanquished. Its nothing new. This guy didnt make it up. What, are we not allowed to state facts anymore these days because people are so uptight that the truth is now to POLITCALLY INCORRECT for the ears of some. Well guess what. Asians eat dogs. Hide Fluffy

    May 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  2. jesse

    oh come on!! i'm so sick of all this PC crap out there nowadays! let someone make a joke and move on. it was really funny. FREEDOM OF SPEECH!!

    May 13, 2010 at 1:50 pm | Report abuse |
  3. RickCa


    you said "To be a journalist, should it not be required that one has a healthy grasp of the language one chooses to write in? "

    When criticising grammar etc. you should be more careful yourself. I think "To be a journalist, should it not be required that one has a healthy grasp of the language in which one chooses to write? "

    Have fun!

    May 13, 2010 at 1:53 pm | Report abuse |
  4. funwsin

    People have become too sensitive. They claim that they are offended by almost any remark or reference to their past. I am tired of that political correctness.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Sara

    But...the Maori were cannibals! They arent even the native New Zealanders. They ATE the native new zealanders! I wish I was kidding.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  6. E-Train

    Q: What did the cannibal do after he dumped his girlfriend?

    A: Wiped his behind and walked to the other side of the island...

    May 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Grubish

    Looks like he is getting grilled anyway.

    Stick a fork in him, hes done.

    Love the comment that you cant eat the politicians because they are so full of crap.

    May 13, 2010 at 1:57 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Jump'n Bean

    Two cannibals just finished a big meal and one turns to the other while rubbing his stomach with his fist and say, "You know, I just ate my mother-in-law, and she still doesn't agree with me!"

    May 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  9. sweet jesus

    All I've gotta say is...don't knock it till you try it.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:00 pm | Report abuse |
  10. dandy

    So, it is ok to say in a meeting with the Dutch Chamber of Commerce that I am glad I am there and not in Germany because the only chamber I would get to meet with in Germany would be a gas chamber. Ha Ha Ha.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. John Morgan

    Eat me!

    May 13, 2010 at 2:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Joe R.

    So....are the Tuhoe cannibals? If so, then I guess he just spoke the truth.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:10 pm | Report abuse |
  13. tigerpaw1014

    OK, I've got one..."Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side!"

    Now I have ticked off conservatives because Obama probably eats chicken...
    blacks because I have apparently made a racial comment...
    vegetarians because they don't eat chicken...
    greenies because the road probably used to be a meadow...
    the religious right because there IS NO OTHER SIDE...
    anti-abotionists because free choice is involved...
    pork because it's the other white meat...
    oops...another racial comment...
    and, finally, cannibals because they have no sense of humor.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  14. tigerpaw1014

    re: the previous attemp at being facetious...the word is "anti-abortionist"...

    May 13, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  15. tigerpaw1014

    my god, I can't spell..."attempt".

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