'White privilege' - Maori academic dismisses legitimacy of Sally Anderson's moko as 'business branding'

Source: 1News

A Maori academic has derided the motives behind Kiwi life coach Sally Anderson's moko, labelling it a mixture of "business branding" and "cultural appropriation" encouraged by a culture of "white privilege".

Dr Mera Lee-Penehira said Ms Anderson's moko, which has been heavily criticised over the last few days over it's prominence on her website, was not appropriate because her genealogy is entirely Pakeha.

"I think the problem is she's a Pakeha woman who doesn't have any whakapapa, or any genealogical ties herself to Maori, so how do you wear something that represents your genealogy, when that's not your genealogy," Dr Lee-Penehira said.

"And representing that of your husband or wife isn't appropriate in this instance."

Ms Anderson has r emoved images of her moko from her website after a massive backlash from the public .

Yet the life coach has claimed her moko is legitimised by her Maori husband, who himself has full face ta moko .

Dr Lee-Penehira said the moko is a tattoo that specifically represents your own unique Maori genealogy and it doesn't make sense for a person of full Pakeha blood to have one.

"What's represented in any facial moko is about our tribal designs, it's about who we were born to be," Dr Lee-Penehira said. 

"From what I've seen and I've only looked in the last couple of days, it does appear that moko were being used in this instance as business branding, and I do think there's a level of cultural appropriation.

"I do think there's a level of white privilege that's being displayed here and I think we need to be really cautious about that."

Dr Lee-Penehira added that there is a difference between Moari tattoo's Pakeha have on their arms and legs, compared to the moko.

"No I think there is a distinction, and the distinction rests with this being particularly whakapapa related," she said.

"There are other designs on other parts of people's bodies that don't have to have that level of whakapapa relationship.

"Our faces, our heads carry with them a level of tapu that isn't necessarily associated for example with your arms."