Kapa Haka Meme – New digital age warning

A number of meme’s were produced from the recent Te Matatini Kapa Haka causing offence to the individuals whose images were manipulated.


A social media site in America where members create memes and other humor is produced where people vote on the material: produced memes that were slowly circulated via social media. Unfortunately as with any negative digital media case that receives media attention, it only creates more attention. Māori media who air stories that the mainstream media do not, aired the story and gave the images much more wide spread publicity than they would normally have, after a New Zealand radio station added the memes to its web site in what is seen by me as ignorant and not well thought out.


Many questions were raised as to the legality and I think every Māori agreed that they were offensive. The issue is that the images prior to being manipulated were taken in the public domain and the whole of Te Matatini was broadcast on television and streamed live on the Internet. Anyone in the audience could have taken the photos and even a recording of the haka.


Are the kappa haka meme morally right? of course not. Are the images legal? I believe they are due to the facts above. The copyright company of Te Matatini has made a complaint to the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority for sharing the photos by the radio station. This will be an interesting case as the images were produced and shared on the Internet with the original web site having a clear legal disclaimer and copyright notice. The memes do not contain any copyright notices and it was simply a case of re sharing a public image. I suspect there will be no case and that the radio station who quickly removed the images from their web site acted morally to remove them and they have certainly learnt to reconsider such behaviour in the future.


Proving who the author of these images were will be technically difficult and considering the nature of the images I doubt anyone will resource a full technical investigation. Finding out who added the images to the Internet is not so hard and it was a shame that the Maori media didn’t investigate this further.


High speed Internet coupled with internet ready devices such as cell phones, i-devices and tablets make any one and anything in the public domain fair game for anyone to capture your image, share it and even manipulate it. This is not limited to public events, it can and often encroaches into our private where we may not be aware of the recording and sharing.


If any individual or group want to be in the public arena, then they should also be prepared for their images and audio to be captured and shared on the Internet.


How should Māori deal with this in the future?
• Boycott the web sites who promote such offensive images or stories.
• Social media stories about the people and companies promoting negative Indigenous behaviour
• Create online petitions expressing disapproval or disgust at the offence

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