Bicultural Art: Offensive to the Māori or Acceptable Freedom of Expression? Wai 262, the CCPR and NZBORA

19(2) Australian Journal of Human Rights 47-92

Posted: 7 Feb 2020

See all articles by Jessica C. Lai

Jessica C. Lai

Victoria University of Wellington

Date Written: 2013

Abstract

Historically, colonisation purposefully suppressed the culture and identity of New Zealand’s indigenous people, the Māori. Nevertheless, in recent decades, New Zealand has been trading off its Māori image when convenient, such as in the tourism industry, sometimes in ways that insult the Māori or are contrary to Māori customary law. The recent Wai 262 report from the Waitangi Tribunal recommended that no one should be able to use Māori cultural heritage in an ‘offensive’ or ‘derogatory’ way, even if the uses qualify for copyright or trade mark protection. This paper questions what this means for artists, particularly those who use Māori symbols, signs or icons in their art to make socio-political statements about New Zealand’s history and its modern society, which is still rife with racial tension. How do we balance the protection from offence against the right to freedom of expression, especially when that expression is so highly valued being socio-political speech? This paper uses Lester Hall’s work ‘Sid Going’ as a case study to discuss these issues.

Keywords: traditional cultural expressions, freedom of expression, Wai 262

JEL Classification: K33, K39

Suggested Citation

Lai, Jessica C., Bicultural Art: Offensive to the Māori or Acceptable Freedom of Expression? Wai 262, the CCPR and NZBORA (2013). 19(2) Australian Journal of Human Rights 47-92, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3053059

Jessica C. Lai (Contact Author)

Victoria University of Wellington ( email )

PO Box 600
Wellington
New Zealand

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