SYDNEY, Australia (JTA) — Israelis living in New Zealand were found to be posing as Maoris for a local tour operator.
Discovery Heritage Group conceded Tuesday that it had hired Europeans and Israelis to pose as Maori for passengers disembarking from ships at the port of Tauranga on New Zealand’s north island.
Maori are the indigenous Polynesian people of New Zealand.
The Maori impersonators dressed up in traditional robes and had fake Maori tattoos painted on their faces because some of the Maori are “too lazy to get out of bed,” local media quoted Terina Puriri, the director of the Discovery Heritage Group, as saying.
The group has been banned from operating at the port because of the breach of security.
The Israelis and other Maori impersonators danced the traditional haka and asked disembarking passengers if they wished to pose for a photo with an indigenous New Zealander.
Puriri, who is Maori, was reported as saying that “some of our Maori are too slack to promote themselves … some of our Maori are too lazy to get out of bed to do that.”
But HuiKakahu Kawe, the chairman of the local Maori tribe, was reported as saying, “We have Maori operators that are operating successfully in the tour business who do get up in the morning and do the business.”
Puriri said critics should “relax” and “stop splitting hairs,” the Associated Press reported.