Wellington, Nov 4 (IANS) A New Zealand author’s book has been pulled from an online store following her criticism of the Foreign Affairs Minister’s traditional Maori tattoo.
Olivia Pierson had tweeted that facial tattoos on a female diplomat was “ugly and uncivilised”.
Nanaia Mahuta is the first female MP in New Zealand to have a Maori facial tattoo. She was appointed a Minister in a recent cabinet reshuffle, the BBC reported.
Pierson’s tweet sparked anger and calls for her book to be pulled.
In response, prominent New Zealand online retailer Mighty Ape said it had withdrawn her book and “would not be making it available again”.
Some New Zealanders with Maori heritage wear tattoos, known as moko, to mark their genealogy and heritage.
Men’s moko tend to cover their entire face, while women’s moko cover their chin.
Pierson had on Monday posted a tweet linked to a story about Mahuta’s appointment.
“Really? The face of NZ’s new Foreign Minister? Facial tattoos are not exactly a polished civilised presentation for a foreign diplomat in the 21st century,” she said.
She later said facial tattoos “especially on a female diplomat, is the height of ugly, uncivilised wokedom”.
Many Twitter users criticised her comments as racially and culturally insensitive, pointing out that moko is part of indigenous culture.
Pierson told New Zealand news outlet Stuff that she stood by her comments, saying facial tattoos were ugly on “anybody, white, brown or black”.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern had earlier described her new cabinet – which also includes the country’s first openly gay Minister – as “incredibly diverse”.
Reaction to the new cabinet has been largely positive, with many praising the move.
Ardern had last month led her Labour Party to a landslide victory in New Zealand’s general elections.
Professor Te Kahautu Maxell of the University of Waikato said those getting moko are people “deciding to reclaim their heritage and identity”.
“We have to protect the last bastions that we have as Maori to make us different.”