Paterson, Jacob. “Powhiri.” 2016. Illustration.
Maori men are often stereotyped in NZ society as the ‘primitive natural athlete’. This originates from the early colonial perception that Maori were intellectually inferior to Europeans and considered in many cases, ‘primitive savages’ (Wall 3).
The stereotype of Maori as natural athletes isn’t perceived by many Pakeha to be particularly harmful, as it portrays Maori men as strong and fierce, like depictions of Maori warrior imagery, for the NZ Warriors Rugby team. Contemporary Maori artist, Michael Parakowhai challenges this assertion in his sculpture ‘kapa haka’. Criticizing these colonial imposed stereotypes, that act as a way of referring to Maori as the ‘Other’ with collective experiences and traits of physical prowess, and not necessarily intellectual prowess. It depicts 5 Maori men in shirt and tie and speaks to how stereotypes affect Maori men in the modern workplace.
Parekowhai, Michael. Kapa Haka, 2003, automotive paint on fiberglass, Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, Auckland.
Wall, Melanie. “Stereotypical Constructions of the Maori ‘Race’” New Zealand Geographer 53.2 (1997): 40-45.