Friday, June 3, 2011

Tariana's Tirade: For What?

Maori Politics 101: when you're not in the political spotlight, play the 'race card'.
Last week, Tariana Turia let rip at a kiwi company, for using a cultural icon in milk powder branding. She said maori midwives complained to her that Heitiki infant formula (made by Kiaora NZ Intl.) was being sold overseas. *gosh* Mrs Turia said it was offensive that a cultural icon (heitiki are carved pieces of jewellery) had been associated with food. *shock* So was she:
(1) querying overseas sales of formula... as per vast numbers of complaints by maori midwives?
(2) concerned about “cultural misappropriation”?
(3) worried that maori women were so easily led astray, as to substitute breastmilk with infant formula simply because of a picture?
Nuh! She got Consumer Affairs to investigate Kiaora over country-of-origin representation, and compliance issues in relation to WHO International Code of marketing breast milk substitutes: "I will not rest until (I’m assured) Kiaora is complying with all appropriate codes and quality standards, in the marketing and production of Heitiki infant formula powder".
So what's her issue…really? Coz it’s obviously a damn sight more than a company using a tiki as branding. For crissake, tikis have been made in cheapo plastic to titillate tourists for years! They have even been used in confectionery!
Well, Consumer Affairs did check out Kiaora – and gave it the OK. Happy now, Tariana?
However, Kiaora (obviously a sensitive bunch) has apologised to the NZ public and in particular to maori, saying they “deeply regret the cultural insensitivity arising from our use" of a tiki, and they'll be rebranding with no maori imagery.
To Kiaora I say: there’s no need to apologise to anyone! You chose imagery (in the public domain) to highlight the product’s origins – New Zealand. No-one but Ms.Turia raised this as a major issue! It’s sad you have to go through the hassle/expense of rebranding, simply because of this pre-election storm in a formula bottle.
The stupid thing is - the formula is sold in China: Kiaora “has no intention of selling it to NZ consumers”.
So again I ask: what was Tariana really after? Just publicity...

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