Prince Harry accused of using Maori culture 'to push his own agenda'

Prince Harry is accused of using Maori culture ‘to push his own agenda’ after Travalyst eco-friendly travel campaign – just weeks after the Māori party called for a ‘divorce’ from the Crown and removal of the Queen as New Zealand’s head of state

  • Prince Harry starred in a bizarre skit video promoting a campaign for his eco-travel non-profit Travalyst 
  • The prince spoke Maori as he called his project his ‘new kaupapa’ – the word for work with public good 
  • However, he has come under fire from royal fans who have accused him of appropriating Maori culture
  • Comes just weeks after the Māori party called for the Queen to be removed as New Zealand’s head of state

Prince Harry has been accused of ‘appropriating’ Maori culture after he appeared in a bizarre advert to plug his eco-travel  firm Travalyst.

The Duke of Sussex appeared in the five-minute video yesterday and delivered several phrases in Te Reo MaoriLaunching his campaign on Maori Television’s current affairs programme Te Ao with Moana, Harry described New Zealand as a country of ‘sustainability pioneers’ and called his project his ‘new kaupapa‘ – the Maori word for work that is considered principled and for public good. 

He went on to praise Maori culture, which he said ‘inherently understands sustainable practices and how to take better care of our life-giving-land, which are critical lessons which we can all learn’. 

However, he has come under fire from royal fans who have accused him of appropriating Maori culture to plug his eco-firm. 

Taking to Twitter, one wrote: ‘Usually a white man launching a global brand would be accused of appropriating Maori culture. Not sure Prince Harry will get the same treatment.’

Another said: ‘So Prince Harry is now appropriating Māori culture to cash in on mental health.’

While a third added: ‘How does it feel for Maori to be used by Harry to market his business. Did he ask first?’

In another potential embarrassment for the duke, his video comes just weeks after the Māori party called for the Queen to be removed as New Zealand’s head of state.

Calling for a ‘divorce’, co-leader Rawiri Waititi said the Crown has failed in its duty of care: ‘What we’ve had until now is a one-sided relationship, completely defined by the Crown. That looks more like a dictatorship than a partnership.’

Last night, a Kiwi comic who starred alongside Prince Harry in the advert once called Jewish people ‘expendable’, said Hitler ‘had a right’ and that HIV sufferers deserved to be ‘roasted’ in a brutal comedy roast more than a decade ago, it emerged last night.

In the advert, Prince Harry described New Zealand as a country of ‘sustainability pioneers’ and called his project his ‘new kaupapa ‘ – the Maori word for work that is considered principled and for public good

Prince Harry has come under-fire from royal fans who have accused him of appropriating Maori culture to plug his eco-firm

In another potential embarrassment for the duke, his video comes just weeks after the Māori party called for the Queen to be removed as New Zealand’s head of state. Pictured are Maori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer

Dave Fane, the creator of animated TV series Bro’Town, appears in Harry’s five-minute video as a ‘rating agent’ who ambushes the British royal as he jogs through California, which doubles as the backdrop for New Zealand woodland.

In the clip, Fane claims he is meant to be assessing the duke, saying: ‘I’m supposed to be rating Harry. You’ve got Harry Styley and I’ve got the stylish Harry.’ 

It has since reemerged that the 56-year-old came under fire for making a string of allegedly racist and homophobic comments at the inaugural Radio Roast in 2010.

Fane told an audience at the comedy event that ‘Hitler had a right’, that ‘Jews were expendable’, and that HIV sufferers deserved to be ‘roasted’, Stuff reported. 

At the event, he said: ‘Would you roast an HIV person? You’d roast them because they’re expendable, like the Jews. Hitler had a right, you know.’

The jokes were so incendiary that at the time, Fane was suspended from his position as host of breakfast radio show Flava for a week, with Radio Network chief executive John McElhinney saying that the remarks were inappropriate even in the context of a ‘roast’.

Apologising to the New Zealand Aids Foundation and New Zealand Jewish Council, Fane said: ‘They were dumb words, said by a dumb man.’

A spokesman for Fane told MailOnline: ‘Those words were taken out of context at the time and were deeply regretted. They did not then and do not now reflect his personal beliefs. Dave made an abject apology both to the Jewish council and to the public at the time, this event took place over 12 years ago.’

MailOnline has contacted a representative for the Duke of Sussex for comment. 

In the five-minute video, published on the YouTube page of Harry’s non-profit organisation Travalyst today, the Queen’s grandson is ambushed by ‘rating agent’ Rhys Darby and accused of dropping a lolly wrapper four years earlier on a trip to the country with Meghan.

The bizarre skit, which also features Kiwi actor Rena Owen, launches the first-ever initiative launched in New Zealand for the British prince’s non-profit Travalyst organisation, founded in 2019, in which holidaymakers, rather than holidays, are rated for how sustainable they are. Kiwis now have access to a rating tool on the Travalyst website as part of a pilot initiative encouraging travellers to consider sustainable options during planning for their next trip.

It is unclear why the duke chose New Zealand for the project, but Harry is known to love the country and considered moving there with his wife when they acrimoniously quit as frontline royals, before opting for LA instead. 


Dave Fane, left in Auckland, New Zealand in 2009, and right in Prince Harry’s new Travalyst campaign video

Undated handout videograb of the Duke of Sussex as he plays a starring role in a sustainable travel campaign sketch in which he jogs through a forest before being accused of dropping a lolly wrapper four years earlier on a trip to New Zealand

Asked how he is, Harry responds ‘Kei te pai’ [I am fine] and admits the rating ‘has got me thinking’

Prince Harry has chosen to speak Maori to announce a new project in New Zealand today 

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex visit Te Papaiouru Marae on October 31, 2018 in Rotorua, New Zealand

Harry, who served in the British military, joined fellow soldiers during his 2015 trip to the country, and learned the army’s Haka

A who’s who of the Kiwi actors who starred in Harry’s bizarre skit 

RHYS DARBY 

Kiwi comedian Rhys Darby is best known for his role as the band manager in hit TV series Flight of the Conchords, as well as a string of appearances in movies including Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle, Yes Man, What We Do in the Shadows and The Boat That Rocked.

Born in Auckland on March 21, 1974, former soldier Darby left the New Zealand Army in 1994 and began studies at the University of Canterbury, where he formed comedy duo Rhysently Granted with Grant Lobban.

The pair began performing at local venues before Darby pursued more solo shows first in Auckland, and then the UK – where he then appeared in the Flight of the Conchords BBC radio series. 

As of July 2014, Darby lives in Los Angeles, California with his family. 

Rhys Darby and Jim Carrey in 2008 movie Yes Man

RENA OWEN 

Rena Owen is of Welsh, English, Irish and Maori descent. She starred as Beth Heke in Once Were Warriors and in George Lucas’s Star Wars: Episode II – Attack of the Clones.

Born in New Zealand’s Bay Of Islands on July 22, 1962 Owen pursued a medical career and trained as a nurse at Auckland Hospital before moving to London as a registered nurse. 

There, she trained at the Actors Institute in London in the mid-1980s before returning to New Zealand and starring in a string of theatre productions and television series.

Temuera Morrison and Rena Owen in Once Were Warriors

DAVID FANE 

David Fane, a Kiwi actor of Samoan descent, will perhaps be known in Britain for Bro’Town, The Tattooist and The Strip.

A founding member of comedy group Naked Samoans, Fane, 56, first appeared on TV in sketch comedy show SKITZ alongside future Naked Samoans Oscar Kightley and Robbie Magasiva.  

In 2010, Fane found himself at the centre of controversy when he said that ‘Hitler had a right’, people living with HIV deserved to be ‘roasted’, and ‘Jews were expendable’ at the inaugural Radio Roast.

Fane apologised to the New Zealand Aids Foundation and New Zealand Jewish Council, with both organisations accepting his apology.

Writer and performer David Fane arrives for the opening night of Cirque Du Soleil ‘Dralion’ at Alexandra Park on July 9, 2009 in Auckland, New Zealand

He told Maori television’s current affairs programme Te Ao with Moana: ‘The Maori culture inherently understands sustainable practices and taking better care of our life-giving land, which are critical lessons we can all learn and that is why I’m here with you to share a new kaupapa.’ 

In the skit, Harry – who is dressed in a grey ‘Girl Dad’ t-shirt and sporting Apple Airpod headphones – is at first given three stars out of five, and then three and a half – as stamps on his arm – for only using one towel and for buying local honey. He is also praised for not leaving the tap running while brushing his teeth.

‘I never do… Hang on a second. How do you know that?… That’s really weird,’ Harry quips.

The duke insists the wrapper is not his, with comedian Darby saying: ‘It might have been a confusing time, it was windy.’ Harry responds: ‘I don’t think it was confusing. It was an incredible time. We had an amazing time in New Zealand. It’s beautiful.’

Fane, who plays another rating agent, arrives claiming he is meant to be assessing the duke, saying: ‘I’m supposed to be rating Harry. You’ve got Harry Styley and I’ve got the stylish Harry.’

The duke delivers several phrases in Te Reo Maori as he chats with Star Wars actress Owen, who pulls up in a van to check on the disorganised agents during the skit which was filmed in California. Asked how he is, the duke responds back in Maori with ‘Kei te pai’ [I am fine] and admits the rating ‘has got me thinking’.

Launching his campaign on Maori Television’s current affairs programme Te Ao with Moana, Harry described New Zealand as a country of ‘sustainability pioneers’ and called his project his ‘new kaupapa‘ – the Maori word for work that is considered principled and for public good. 

He went on to praise Maori culture, which he said ‘inherently understands sustainable practices and how to take better care of our life-giving-land, which are critical lessons which we can all learn’. 

Travalyst CEO Sally Davey said New Zealand was an ‘obvious fit’ for the new project, telling Stuff Travel: ‘We really wanted to start this journey in a place where sustainability is already embedded in the destination – particularly in the local community.

‘The Duke in particular is very aware of Maori culture and kaitiakitanga [guardianship] and felt very strongly, as we all did, that Aotearoa was just an ideal setting for the pilot.’ 

In a statement, Harry said: ‘In a world where we’re tasked with rating so many things, we’re now asking: what if your destination rated you? 

‘Starting in beautiful Aotearoa New Zealand, we’re launching our first campaign. There is a well-known Maori proverb: Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari he toa takitini (success is not the work of an individual, but the work of many) – we invite you to be a part of our many.’ 

Referring to the country in its Maori-language name Aotearoa, Harry told Te Ao with Moana: ‘A few years ago I founded Travalyst, a non-profit dedicated to making sustainable tourism mainstream for all of us, and through that making systemic change. 

‘Every year more and more of us want better options, and for the first time Travalyst is striving to make that reality for everybody who wants to support local communities… and looking after nature and wildlife.

‘For our first campaign, we are encouraging people to flip the script. We’re always being asked for our feedback on our trips and experiences, but what would happen if our holiday rated us? It’s an important question to ask, and we want all of you to help us answer it.’

Harry added: ‘I’ve been to Aotearoa a number of times throughout my life, and I’ve always felt a deep connection and respect towards the Maori people, who make me feel so welcome every time. 

‘Most recently when I visited with my wife, we were touched by the connections we built and the incredible memories we have from our time there. 

‘We were particularly honoured to meet with young people, who are dedicated to the Maori culture and to giving back to their communities and their country. They are rightly determined to make this world a better place for the next generation.

‘Guided by Maori knowledge and practices, Aotearoa is a country of sustainability pioneers. The Maori culture inherently understands sustainable practices and how to take better care of our life-giving-land, which are critical lessons which we can all learn.’

‘It’s interesting to hear someone who’s a royal speak about Maori values, given our history but also given the current debates about having Maori values at the forefront of decision making and relationships,’ she said. 

‘We are open to talking to anyone… anything that particularly resonates with our values as Maori – whether we agree or not. We talk about the Crown every week. I’m hoping that we will have an interview further down the track to tease out that relationship between Maori and the Crown.’

Te Ao with Moana host Moana Maniapoto said Harry had been inspired by Maori values around kaitiakitanga, which translates to ‘guardianship and protection’.   

In 2018, the Prince returned to New Zealand with Meghan Markle. 

The pair discussed moving to there according to the Queen’s representative in the country.

That was more than a year before they stepped back from royal duties and moved to the US.

Former governor-general Dame Patsy Reddy recalled the couple saying they ‘could imagine living in a place like this’ and questioned whether it would be ‘theoretically possible’. 

She told Associated Press in an interview: ‘They were looking at how they might raise their family. And obviously they’ve made some decisions since.’ 

Harry and Meghan, shocked the world when in January 2020 they announced their intent to step back from senior royal roles, become financially independent and spend more time in North America. 

Meghan Markle, Prince Harry and the Queen all pose for a picture during the Queen’s Young Leaders Awards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on June 26, 2018

Recalling the couple’s trip to New Zealand, and how they appeared tired, Dame Patsy, 67, said: ‘I remember they’d just been down to the Abel Tasman National Park when we sat down and had a drink.

‘They said that they could imagine living in a place like this and wondered whether we thought it would be theoretically possible. Even possible for them to have a place in New Zealand.

‘Of course, we said, ‘Sure. It would be fine’. There are lots of opportunities to live in New Zealand, but that would be something that they’d have to explore.’

The discussion suggests the couple were considering options outside Britain less than six months after they married and well before their eventual move to the US. 

Dame Patsy said she did not view it as a formal request for assistance but more of an informal discussion about the couple’s hopes for the future.

She said they seemed impressed with access to the outdoors and their interactions with New Zealanders.

During a widely watched interview with Oprah Winfrey last year, Harry and Meghan said they had  offered to take a step back from royal life in a Commonwealth country such as South Africa or New Zealand.

Dame Patsy said she watched the interview but did not want to comment on internal royal family business.

‘I thought they were a lovely couple and I hope they’ve got a great future where they are,’ she said.

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