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. Chucklehead

    The only cannibal here is the guy with his foot in his mouth....

    May 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  2. dubbya

    Hey, Meatball!!

    Even Cannibals are smart and know that eating a redneck would infected them with dumbness.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:47 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Meat Balls

    Thicker skin? You mean like Roma tomatoes? That goes against the concept: the less skin the more juice. The downside is that they are not that good for canning or drying.

    Q: Anyone knows what is cannibals favorite method for storing?

    May 13, 2010 at 2:48 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Ealdwulf

    I've stayed with the Maori and they're great people, very generous and kind. However lots of cultures are known for silly things in the past that might be deplorable today. I don't think this particular Maori tribe partakes in cannibalism today so why the offense. The joke was not made in a nasty way, it was light hearted. As someone of Scottish ancestry I cannot tell you the amount of "skirt" jokes I've heard, or sheep jokes. C'mon guys he obviously wasn't serious, lets move on.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:54 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Kafka

    Supposedly a lot of hoopla about nothing and minorities are whiners. HMMM! I wonder what the response would have been had the Maori tribesman said something about how sick, twisted, pathetic, and dishonest most colonials and their governments have been and are.

    This situation is not a question of whining it is an affirmation of people getting tired of other peoples abject stupidity and lack of common sense.

    May 13, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  6. I Eat Cannibals

    Anybody with HALF a brain (unless the other half was eaten by a cannibal) can understand that the comment was made with absolutely NO malice! Prince Charles makes all sorts of tasteless, offbeat comments all the time about anybody and everything. I don;t see an uproar over that! These whiners should grow up!

    What did the mother cannibal tell her son kicking around a human head on the beach?
    Johnny, don't play with your food
    What did the cannibal say while inviting his friend to the cookout?
    Come to the festivities tonight. You will be profoundly stirred
    What did the cannibal host tell the late cannibal guest?
    Sorry, everybody's eaten
    What did the mother cannibal say to the child pointing to the aircraft?
    The insides are delicious but we throw away the outside.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:00 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Hannibal the Cannibal

    To all my peeps in New Zealand, I suggest a nice thigh or breast with Fava Beans and a bottle of Chianti wine.

    I want to run for PM of New Zealand.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Meat Balls

    >>I cannot tell you the amount of "skirt" jokes I've heard, or sheep jokes.
    We are all ears. C'mon, don't be shy! Make Key eat his "self-deprecating" joke.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:02 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Clint

    Oh goodness, get a sense of humor world! Are they still cannibals? No? Then who gives a rip. It's not a "tasteful" joke (get it) that's for sure, but give the guy a break and stick with real issues.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:04 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Hailee

    since when does having a sense of humor also mean being insensitive to the feelings of others; especially after one swipes something that rightfully belonged to the butt of the joke?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  11. echotrain

    @blah blah blah: You are somehow displeased with our Creator's grand plan for us all? These Indians sure take up a lot of real estate in your head.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Sophie

    Wow. There are some really disgustingly racist people on here.

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

    did you hear about the cannibal that was ate before she was seven?

    May 13, 2010 at 3:10 pm | Report abuse |
  14. To Joanna


    You, my dear, are a complete idiot. I'm really hopeful that you haven't or will not ever procreate.

    I am a Native America woman. I have lived a fairly large chunk of my life in my community, though I have lived elsewhere for contract work as well. I can assure you that most people in my community are not only gainfully employed, but legally as well! Yes, I will grant you that there are many who suffer from alcoholism and drug addiction but do NOT pretend that your pretty little white genetics have never seen either of the two to ever grace your privileged world.

    And that "freeloading" we do off you – that is because of similar treaties we've had with the "Canadian" government, who owed us that much after raping our men, women and children, murdering generations of our people, attempting to not only tear away our livelihood and culture in an attempt to "civilize us" but stole all of our land away. Those "hectors" of land you say we're being given? it's peanuts compared to how much of this land was ours to begin with. And you are also benefiting from centuries of white privilege, granted to you by your ancestors. So don't claim to be completely innocent of wrong doing. You are still here, living on MY land. You could at least have the decency to respect it.

    May 13, 2010 at 3:12 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Meat Balls

    >> Anybody with HALF a brain (unless the other half was eaten by a cannibal)
    Did you really have to drag teabaggers into this?

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