K-Pop Band Apologises for Opening Track With a Māori Karakia

"We did not hope or mean to offend any Māori people, or anyone for that matter."

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03 December 2018, 10:30pm

NCT 127. Image via Shutterstock

After copping a lot of flack, a popular K-pop band has apologised for tossing in a Māori karakia at the start of their song, ‘Simon Says’. "Tūturu o whiti whakamaua kia tina," the moving words from a well-known traditional Māori chant, open the NCT 127 hit.

Māori and intellectual property advocates have criticised the cultural appropriation of the prayer since the track was released last month. The band hasn’t said anything about removing it, but, according to Stuff, SM Entertainment sent an email to Karlite Rangihau, a lecturer at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa who had criticised the move, apologising for any offence caused.

In a separate statement, SM Entertainment's Paul Huh said: "We at SM Entertainment did not hope to or mean to offend any Māori people, or anyone for that matter, through the use of this particular sample in the song."

"Understanding that these were very uplifting words, we thought that the said sample and the meaning of this sample matched the meaning of the lyrics of our song as well, which encourage listeners to find their true self."

The South Korean boy band took the snippet of the karakia from a wedding video that had been posted online and said they asked the couple for their permission to use it. "We did request and receive clearance for the use of this particular sample from the original source prior to the release of the song through the production company after we spoke to the wedded Māori couple themselves.”

But because traditional karakia are tribally owned, Rangihau told Stuff the group should have consulted iwi, not individuals, as the couple are not the original owners.

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