Ngātiwai Trust Board has slammed Fine Art America for selling shower curtains imprinted with images of their tūpuna Paratene Te Manu.
The Trust, along with many other Māori have expressed their disgust over the company selling a whole range of images of Māori tūpuna from across the country on its online store.
Ngātiwai kaumātua, Paratene Te Manu (Sonny) Wellington, says he’s disgusted at the behaviour pf the US-based online retailer, “It is sad that a company is selling images of our Māori ancestors to make a dollar. The use of an image of my tūpuna, Paratene Te Manu, is wrong and I am totally against it.
In terms of tikanga it is insulting. It’s like putting your backside on a table, you just don’t do it.”
The Chair of Ngātiwai Trust Board, Haydn Edmonds says, “We will be writing to the Fine Art Company in America to tell them that we are insulted by this and that we totally oppose the use of these images and demand that they do not ever use them again.”
Edmonds says, “We are very disappointed that a company in the US would think it is ok to brazenly use the images of our tūpuna to make a profit. I think companies such as this have a moral obligation to at least ask, is it ok that we use these images? Clearly, the answer would be no.”
A public outcry across the country erupted after images of the items in question and more surfaced on social media platforms.
The website has also been accused of taking advantage of minors after selling items imprinted with the image of 11-year-old Zjana Marsh-Richards. The young girl was snapped by Brent Snow while sitting for Soldiers Rd Portraits last year.
Zjana’s mother Vanya Marsh told Te Kāea, "We did the portrait for mum and dad, their little Māori princess, not somebody else’s to be on a mug or a shower curtain. Gosh, now that I'm saying it it's really quite awful."
While the website has some of the images in question, the operators are yet to respond to or apologise to those who took offence or have questions over their use of the images.