Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air
One of the questions being asked about the flags used by superstar Pink during her Summer Carnival performance is whether they qualify as poi.
People have flooded online with a range of opinions, after Pink posted that she was “getting many threats because people mistakenly believe I am flying Israeli flags in my show. I am not”.
The first lady of Māoridom, Dame Naida Glavish, believes the poi are being used as something dishonest.
“I think our kupu is being used to cover something sinister,” Dame Naida told the Herald.
The issue surrounding Pink’s poi - which are blue and white, the colour of Israel’s flag - was raised after Hamas’s attack on Israel, which killed more than 1000 people, including women and children.
Ngāti Whātua chairwoman Dame Naida Glavish. Photo / Tania Whyte
Pink posted on X, formerly Twitter, that she had been using “poi flags” since the start of her Summer Carnival tour.
“I am getting many threats because people mistakenly believe I am flying Israel flags in my show. I am not.”
“These were used many, many years ago by the Māori people in New Zealand and because they and the Māori people are beautiful to me, we use them.”
But critics were quick to condemn Pink’s actions.
One commentator said: “So while Pink is off base calling them Māori poi, she’s probably referencing the circus community’s belief, which as someone from outside the Māori community isn’t unheard of.”
Another added: “No, these are not Māori in design, other than the poi part.
“Māori did make flags, and kites are known as manu aute where I’m from. But poi was never attached. Poi was originally used by warriors to strengthen their wrists for hand-to-hand combat with a patu or mere [short club].”
“Think poi has gotten more popular globally recently. They were a big hit at the women’s World Cup. Might have something to do with it.”
Bernie O'Donnell, cultural adviser to Auckland University and chairman of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority.
Bernie O’Donnell, cultural adviser to Auckland University and chairman of the Manukau Urban Māori Authority, said his main concern was that the culture and tikanga of poi were being used in an incorrect fashion.
“Someone like Pink entertaining those fans on stage is good because they are recognising our culture but all mixed up on a global stage,” O’Donnell said.
“But the trade-off is, is it really authentic?”
“Who is giving permission for non-Māori to do that but also giving permission for those people to take it to the world?”
O’Donnell believes Māori must ask how they can control the use of their cultural tikanga around the world and how it is being altered.
“The last thing I’d like to say: we have to protect our culture.”
Take your Radio, Podcasts and Music with you