DHB issue offensive Covid pamphlet apology

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A joint apology is being issued from Bay of Plenty health officials following the use of an inappropriate design on Covid-19 marketing collateral.

A pamphlet titled “Let’s Give Covid-19 The Boot” was published using Māori faces on cartoon virus figures.

All cartoon images of the virus had tā moko [traditional Māori tattoos]; one was being kicked by a man in gumboots and another had a person in Covid-style protective equipment standing on it.

The brochure has been pulled after it was deemed culturally inappropriate and racist by Race Relations commissioner Meng Foon. Read more here.

In a statement released this afternoon, the joint chairs of the Bay of Plenty District Health Board and Te Runanga Hauora Māori o te Moana a Toi, Sharon Shea and Linda Steel, the CEO, Pete Chandler, and the Manukura – Executive Director Toi Ora, Marama Tauranga have today apologised to local Māori, Iwi and hapū partners, and whānau, for the use of an inappropriate design on Covid-19 marketing collateral.

Last night, the BOPDHB chair was advised of the material and immediately instructed the CEO to withdraw the collateral.

All remaining materials will be destroyed, and the design will not be used again.

The chairs and executive management express aroha to all concerned.

“I saw the design last night. I was offended by it. It was wrong,” says BOPDHB board chair Sharon Shea.

“Since last night, I have been informed it was designed by a Māori artist, and had input from Māori marketing specialists and it had gone through an approval process, including consultation with some local iwi.

“However, it is clear that the process was not as robust as needed, and this design has caused offence. On this occasion, we have failed our Māori community, and we apologise. It’s not good enough.

“I have asked the chief executive to initiate a review immediately, and to ensure we have the appropriate protocols and a robust approval processes in place. We are working with our Te Tiriti governance partner, Te Rūnanga Hauora Māori o Te Moana a Toi, and this is a matter of urgency,” says Shea.

“Our Māori community are some of those most at risk from Covid-19, and this issue is an unwanted distraction from our important job of delivering as many vaccines as possible to our valued kaumatua, kuia, pakeke and whanau. We are absolutely committed to an equitable approach to the vaccine rollout, and providing our whanau with the opportunity to access the vaccine.”

Linda Steel, Chair of Te Runanga Hauora Māori o te Moana a Toi, says Te Runanga Hauora Māori o te Moana a Toi fully tautoko the actions of the BOPDHB chair and CEO in removing the totally offensive material and the urgent review of the process.

“Te Runanga Hauora Māori o te Moana a Toi which consists of seventeen iwi from Mai I Ngā Kuri a Whaarei ki Tihirau are beyond offended that the most sacred part of our tinana has been depicted in this manner and unreservedly apologise to all our whānau, hapu, iwi and hāpori communities.”


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Confused Maori

Posted on 24-07-2021 18:46 | By

That Farmer kicking the virus - looks Maori to me. Actually he looks just like me - just with a smaller gut and more hair

Wokesters one and all.

Posted on 24-07-2021 16:27 | By R. Bell

Problem is, to be woke is to be aware, which many are not, particularly when in order to reach people you don’t offend them you encourage them. You don’t make racist cartoons, you activate teams of informed diplomats, with a small d. Not something the usual mutual admiration department are known for I know, but here’s hoping.

Mr Foon

Posted on 24-07-2021 14:35 | By

If this is deemed culturally inappropriate does Mr Foon think a bunch of Rugby players, mostly non Maori, should be doing the haka before a game of footy? I would argue that it is not appropriate.

A great example...

Posted on 24-07-2021 13:24 | By morepork

... of people "looking for trouble" rather than doing some digging. No offense was intended here and if the artist had been consulted before there was a public furore it could have been explained easily. When I first saw the drawings I could see it was intended without malice, but we get people like Feng Moon who make a living out of amplifying events like this. He should have been the FIRST to come out with the proper explanation.... Political sensitivity leads to a CEO making an (almost) unnecessary apology, and the general population not knowing what to think, but figuring it must be bad. It WAS bad, inasmuch as there was insensitivity, and it could have been done better, but it was UNDERSTANDABLE, if people took the time to understand it, instead of just looking for Racism. PC at white heat is NOT serving us well.


Posted on 24-07-2021 06:37 | By

All it takes these days is one person to be offended and off we go in a tailspin. This is the problem with prioritising one race over another and trying to “target” them in advertising. It’s racist from the get go. It’s inevitable that any ad will be. Wokesters create the problem and it’s wokesters that then go into a tailspin.

@ By jed

Posted on 23-07-2021 22:02 | By The Caveman

SPOT ON - what was the brief - HIT the MAORI population "in the face" - why! You are at a big risk from the "Covid Crap" - GET YOUR VACANICATION And as far as I am concerned the chap that did the "design" work for the promotion was SPOT ON THE MARK - a SHOCK PROMOTION to get the attention of the target people !!

I won't say

Posted on 23-07-2021 20:07 | By morepork

But I did. If you view it from a Maoritanga standpoint, it is something that leverages a proud tradition of being a warrior, to show that Covid needs to be attacked. But, people who would rather find offense have made it a political statement... I would agree that it could have been done differently and maybe should have been, but I can also see how it might be designed and approved by people with a Maori background. Maybe next time, instead of jumping to a conclusion, it might be useful to employ some understanding. Politically sensitive brochures should be vetted by Maori AND tauiwi before publication.

Yep Jed I agree

Posted on 23-07-2021 17:14 | By Kancho

Seems always someone to blame and now worse resources wasted.


Posted on 23-07-2021 16:32 | By

Some tribes might be offended they weren’t consulted. You know how it goes.

@ jed

Posted on 23-07-2021 16:16 | By

Is your comment factual???

Designed by maori

Posted on 23-07-2021 13:35 | By jed

This was designed by maori, was vetted by maori marketing specialists, and , was shown to local iwi who gave approval. I cannot believe this is racist when maori both created and approved it.