Cultural appropriation or appreciation? Kardashian family divide fans with rendition of Maori haka

Some have praised the pronunciation of Ka Mate, while others claim the performance disrespects Maori culture

It's a ceremonial dance performed on momentous occasions, designed to display a sense of unity and strength.

The haka, native to New Zealand's Maori community, can often be seen at weddings or on the rugby pitch, performed by the mighty All Blacks to signal a challenge.

And, now, it can also be seen on the Kardashian family's TikTok.

In a clip shared to Scott Disick's Instagram Stories, several members of the reality TV family were captured performing the traditional dance for a video.

The media personality, who shares three children with Kourtney Kardashian, captured his daughter, Penelope, 8, giving a lively rendition of the Ka Mate haka, while stood on a flight of stairs.

Penelope is also joined by her cousins, North, 7, and Saint, 5, two of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West's four children.

"Tik tok ya don’t stop,” Disick captioned the clip. “Ain’t got nothing on us.”

The clip drew widespread attention, with many New Zealanders praising the children's correct pronunciation of the traditional haka, first composed by Te Rauparaha, war leader of the Maori Ngati Toa tribe.

"I thought the Kardashian kids doing the haka was cute. They weren't laughing at it. They enjoyed themselves. It felt like appreciation in this context," wrote one Twitter user. "They pronounced most of the words better than half the people I know do."

Maori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki added that the performance could be seen as "a great thing".

"On the other hand, I would love to have a conversation with them about what the haka means and what motivated them to do it," he told Star News.

There is a #HakaChallenge trend currently circulating on TikTok, though it is not yet known if that is why the family filmed their performance.

Other social media users, however, criticised the use of a ceremonial dance as TikTok fodder.

"My heritage better not be a damned TikTok dance challenge. I don't care that they've learned the real words rather than making up their own, this is sacred," wrote one Twitter user.

Maori cultural adviser Tania Ka'ai argued that many of those who perform the haka don't take the time to learn the significance of its history.

"Despite all the positive feedback about their pronunciation and execution, it still doesn't address the issue of why do it in the first place. It's still cultural appropriation," she told Newshub.

"It's not a plaything, it's not a singalong from a Disney movie, it's not a movie like Moana … It's a cultural composition. It has huge significance."

The family have not yet commented on the response to the video.

It is not the first time a Kardashian has been accused of cultural appropriation. Last year, Kim, 40, renamed her shapewear line Skims, which was first called Kimono, after the initial branding was deemed disrespectful to Japanese culture.

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