Pacific Scoop

Danish MP apologises over calling powhiri ‘grotesque’, mocking NZ defence

Danish newspaper BT on Māori

The Danish newspaper BT featured Marie Krarup’s criticisms about Māori traditions as one of its top stories yesterday. The BT headline reads: ‘Doubts cast on Māori-Marie’s penis story’, referring to Marie Krarup’s comment on traditional carvings in the navy’s Te Taua Moana Marae. Image: BT.

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Daniel Drageset of the Pacific Media Centre

Several New Zealanders have sent hate mail to Danish politician Marie Krarup after she characterised a traditional Māori powhiri at Devonport Naval Base in unflattering terms.

And she has now apologised on a New Zealand television show after the controversy erupted yesterday.

In early March, Krarup, who is the defence spokesperson for the far-right Danish People’s Party, witnessed the Māori welcoming ceremony as one of six MPs from the Danish Committee on Defence.

After Krarup’s visit to the naval base, she wrote a commentary in the Danish newspaper BT where she made it clear that she did not appreciate the powhiri.

She called it a “shouting concert”, and although Krarup did not call it uncivilised as reported in other media, she described the powhiri as “less civilised”.

The Danish politician also criticised “big, erect penises” that she says decorated the “Māori temple” [marae].

Defence criticism
Krarup’s main point in her commentary was to link what she saw as an inability for New Zealand to defend itself militarily with multicultural developments in New Zealand the last few decades.

Krarup asked several questions in her commentary about New Zealand’s defence capabilities:

“Could one imagine that New Zealand is a kind of free-rider under an Australian defence umbrella? […] Or have they given up defending themselves? Or are there simply no threats to this distant island nation? I can hardly give the answer, but I did observe certain relinquishing traits.”

Krarup detailed her experiences at the Devonport Naval Base as an example of a relinquishing trait of New Zealand:

“One could perhaps call it [the marae] cultural annihilation or grotesque multi-cultural worship.”

She characterised the naval officers as “beautiful, white-dressed and European looking”, and expressed bewilderment regarding why New Zealanders of European ancestry had to perform a non-European custom to their European guests:

“It is a mystery to me that the naval officers could endure both the ceremony and the surroundings.”

Krarup apologised on TVNZ’s Breakfast show today and said the controversy was due to mistranslation from Danish to English. She did, however, reiterate that the powhiri was “grotesque”. Furthermore, her blog entry has not been altered and includes all the original statements.

In a follow-up interview by BT, Krarup explained that:

“It sounds like I look down on the Māori. I do not do that, even though the culture is alien to me. I do wonder, though, why the Māori culture is forced upon New Zealanders of European ancestry.

“I am critical of a Western defence force incorporating other cultures in that way. It shows a colossal inclusiveness, but the question is if it is wise. It would be the same as if we here at home gave little girls scarves on their heads to appreciate Muslims.”

No homework
Krarup may not have been aware of what she was about to experience at Devonport Naval Base.

According to the New Zealand Herald, Krarup had been given briefing documents about the powhiri by the Danish ambassador to New Zealand, Børge Petersen, before it started. It is unclear, however, if she actually read them:

“She asked what the tradition was and we gave her a write-up, and also the navy had forwarded [to us] what it was all about so she had her background documents. She definitely had the opportunity to read up on that.”

Petersen emphasised that Krarup’s opinions did not reflect those of the Danish government.

The readers of the online newspaper Ekstrabladet seem to distance themselves from Krarup. In an online survey about 75 percent of the readers answered no to the question if it was “alright that Marie Krarup criticises the reception she received from the Māori in New Zealand”.

Against multiculturalism
The Danish People’s Party has since its establishment in 1995 worked against Denmark becoming a multi-ethnic society. In its party-programme the party states that:

“Denmark is not an immigrant country and never has been. Thus we will not accept transformation to a multiethnic society.”

The party received 12.3 percent of the votes in the last general election in 2011 and became the third largest party in the Danish Parliament. The party has never been part of any government coalition, but cooperated with the previous government.

The BT commentary can be found here (in Danish), and Marie Krarup’s personal blog can be found here (in Danish).

One of the Pacific Media Watch editors is proficient in Danish and has provided a translation of the entire blog entry:

Never can a people perish, who do not want it themselves

The nature of New Zealand is breathtaking and the population is friendly and civilised. Oh well… On an official trip with the Committee on Defence I had the pleasure of participating in visits to different defence installations in New Zealand.

And one has to say, that there was both civilisation and the opposite present. It sounds immediately odd for Danish politicians to travel to the other side of the globe to study defence. However, there are many evident similarities between New Zealand and Denmark.

The size of the population (4.4 million in NZ [as compared to 5.5 million in Denmark]), the desire to save expenditures on defence so that its proportion of the GDP is limited, as well as large tasks such as surveillance of Arctic areas.

New Zealand is cutting in its defence spending and is right now conducting an 18 percent reduction of its budget. One has therefore refrained from offensive capabilities – no fighter jets, no tanks and only two frigates. The Defence Force’s task is to a high degree civil, in that it is very much involved in helping out in humanitarian catastrophes, ocean rescues and control of its fishery.

New Zealand’s policies sound very much a dream for the Radical Left Party! [A Danish party, which traditionally has been antimilitaristic.] How can one have a defence without offensive capabilities? That was a natural question for us [the six Danish MPs from the Committee on Defence]. Because one can very well imagine situations where one will have to defend oneself from attacks.

Our fighter jets, for example, are a guarantee for us to uphold our sovereignty. A researcher at a New Zealand think tank answered very sensibly:

“It is not natural for New Zealand to spend money on something that will not be used. So we rather spend money on other things.”

The thought of [military] deterrent is apparently far from New Zealand!

During the visit we were repeatedly told that New Zealand trains and coordinates with Australia. And they have plenty of fighter jets! Could one imagine that New Zealand is a kind of free-rider under an Australian defence umbrella? A little bit like Denmark in NATO under the footnote politics? [A term for Danish defence politics between 1982 and 1988, where the Danish conservative cabinet against its will had to represent the Parliament’s wishes in NATO meetings of showing resistance against the arms race.]

Or have they given up defending themselves? Or are there simply no threats to this distant island nation? I can hardly give the answer, but I did observe certain relinquishing traits.

New Zealand was colonised by the British and has not always treated its original people – the Māori well. Today they comprise 12 percent of the population [14.6 percent is the correct figure according to the 2006 census], but receive great attention and have trumped through a politics of compensation where they can get reimbursements for the harm inflicted on them since the British-Māori deal was agreed in 1840 [Treaty of Waitangi].

On the cultural area they have a rising influence. Since 2000 there has been an increased focus on resurrecting their language and culture, not only among Māori, but in the entire population.

Here I arrive at the less civilised part of the Committee on Defence’s visit. When we arrived at the naval base we were not greeted with handshakes or salutes from uniformed men as usual. No, we were greeted by a Māori dance ritual, with a half-naked man in grass skirt who shouted and screamed in Māori.

He did some strange rituals and showed his tongue, while we observed and were instructed by a local that we should not laugh, and that we after his shouting concert would go in to the Māori temple [marae] where the naval officers awaited us.

However, they were still not allowed to shake our hands. Instead we had to go through a ritual in Māori, where the beautiful, European looking, white-dressed naval officers spoke in broken Māori and sang a song that sounded like “Mariehønen evigglad” [a Danish children’s song that you can listen to here] in Māori  – complete with guitar-accompaniment.

I tried to capture the eyes of the naval officers’ during the execution of the ritual, but they looked down at the ground!

After the ritual we were finally allowed to greet the naval officers – but with nose rubbing [hongi] – not with handshakes. I would like to say hello and tell that one feels like an idiot when one is forced to rub noses with ten European looking naval officers.

Great was my appreciation when one of the guys gave me a kiss on the cheek instead of a nose rub!

After the ritual we were able to speak English and commence a civilised visit. Although we did see the Māori temple, that was decorated with god-like creatures with angry faces and big erect penises.

It is a mystery to me that the naval officers could endure both the ceremony and the surroundings.

The temple is one of several, and there are planned even more to welcome official guests to defence installations in New Zealand. It is a part of a programme directed towards “cultural awareness”!

One could perhaps call it [marae] cultural annihilation or grotesque multicultural worship. It has, however, had its impact on the New Zealand naval officers!

Later on during our visit I was informed by a worried, conservative politician, that between 50.000 and 80.000 New Zealanders leave the country every year. But the population is not declining. The people departing – mostly of European ancestry – are replaced by Asian immigrants.

“It will not be long before we are a brown people”, as he said. The colour is one thing – but how will the culture be in future New Zealand? It will unlikely be as it has been the latest 200 years. At least it seems that New Zealand does not have the will to implement their own culture.

Valdemar Rørdam wrote famously that “a people will never perish, who do not want it themselves”. It does not seem like New Zealanders are a people that will survive. Neither their defence, nor their culture.

Never let Denmark become like this!

Daniel Drageset is contributing editor of Pacific Media Watch.

Source: Pacific Media Watch 8248


  1. Get Real, 8. April 2013, 22:16

    Good on her for having an opinion.
    Obviously Denmark is not full of timid appeasers and apologists like NZ

  2. Alex, 9. April 2013, 2:49

    I as a NZer totally agree with Marie Krarup. It’s high time Maori and the obsessive leftist trogs who live to please them accepted the fact that not every NZer likes the idea of being turned into some kind of “white Maori”. If this nation is all about Maori, then we are indeed a sad nation.

  3. Helene, 9. April 2013, 7:33

    When I read about this case I was horrified and I feel the need to make it clear that the Marie Krarup does not speak for the majority of Danes. She gave up the right to represent Denmark the moment she decided to pass judgement and look down at your society because it is not based solely on European values. I am ashamed of my countryman who is a member of a notoriously racist party whose only goal is to spread fear and hate of anything different or unknown. I really hope you won’t judge the rest of our country based on the ramblings of a stuck-up and judgemental daughter of a priest.

  4. Warehi, 9. April 2013, 11:21

    Marie is right in the money. Maori are a ridiculous joke. They themselves and their “culture” are often an embarrassment to New Zealand. They are a minority and effectively contribute nothing to the country. Their posturing and ridiculous ceremonies should be kept to themselves.

  5. corey andrew mccaskill, 9. April 2013, 12:47

    To say that european and maori can not work together to defend this country is a little narrow minded. As in war or defense the comrade that stands with you in defense of your home country is a friend and fellow soldier no matter what ethnicity or colour he or she is. In war or defense of country we all fight as one. As one we are hard to break. Taking into account, the maori have been doing this for years and so have the europeans that migrated here. Though, maori and european both migrated to new zealand just at different times. Both fought and both lost. But both never truelly gave up until later years. We have an understanding between two cultures, maori and european and have learned to appreciate eachothers cultures. The haka shows the maori courage and mana that can lift even the weakest man to his feet and give him strength when no doubt he has none. Though the powhiri is a challenge to you to see if you come in peace. If you laughed in older times you died. Respect is universal. As we would given it to you without a doubt. And if maori were to mix with european residents of new zealand. Here my friend is the big picture, everything will mix in time it is just a matter of when. And if it does not we would just die fighting for a mere colour or genetic trait that would end up becoming extinct. Time kills all country’s time kills all cultures time kills all things. Respect what we have and maybe we will be one someday and wisdr because of it.

  6. Mitara, 9. April 2013, 14:48

    Maori? hah, you should see some of the rituals the danish Odin worshippers do….

  7. Stefanie M. Brandt, 9. April 2013, 20:57

    Marie Krarup is a highly controversal figure in Danish politics and she does certainly not represent the common Dane. Danes take sharp issue with her statements – even her own party does. Marie Krarup argues that immigrants coming to Denmark must respect the Danish way of living and our culture. Apparently, the same rules don’t apply to her! Danes generally have a very positive image of New Zealand and your culture so please don’t think otherwise because of an ignorant politician’s blog.

    /An embarrassed Dane

  8. An ordinary Dane, 10. April 2013, 1:15

    As an ordinary Dane, I think Marie Krarup was too narrowminded. Why couldn’t she just find it interesting and amusing to experience an official welcome cerenony, where fat naked men are threatening her with sticks and first scream they will kill her and then stick their tongue out to tell they later want to cook and then eat her as a sign of honour and respect.

    Maybe in the future these dancers can be assistants for the Danish Lars Mikkelsen in the new American remake of Hannibal the Cannibal.

  9. Henrik Larsen, 10. April 2013, 18:15

    Worth noticing that she actually didn’t apologize – hardly even commented it in the media – Her Party apologized – but yesterday her father who is a significant figure in the danish peoples party states that his daughter didn’t apologize

  10. Raymond, 11. April 2013, 12:06

    Agree with her comments. We are a weak and timid and political correct nation. That is why the likes of John Key and his political cronies can walk all over us.

  11. An ordinary Dane, 12. April 2013, 9:57

    First, I would like to mention that most Danes as far as know of admire New Zealand. It is one of the countries that score highest on all the international studies regarding welfare rights, democracy and human rights, no corruptions, etc. If we look back, the New Zealanders, the Pakeha as well as Maories and Asians did fight in the Second World War against the Nazi regime, thanks. When we look forward, the country is not only very beautiful country, but it has a people that respect and protect their nature environment as an example for the world. I see NZ as a pioneering country in many ways, we all can learn from.
    Secondly, i still don’t understand why you choose to have the powhiri as an official welcome of guests. I think, it as a very impressive, powerful and in many ways beautiful performance that may be appropriate before a sport competition or better, before an actual war battle (better than the Scottish bagpipe). However, for me it seems like an unnecessary aggressive and regressive ceremony as an official welcome protocol. There must be some more friendly and pleasant greetings ceremonies from the Maori, Pakeha or Asian culture, you could choose to use. At least you wouldn’t have complains from another “Krarup”.
    Best wishes

  12. Te Ihiko o te Rangi, 15. April 2013, 10:24

    Apparently “Marie is right in the money.” according to Warehi and she also comments that ” Maori are a ridiculous joke. They themselves and their “culture” are often an embarrassment to New Zealand. Their posturing and ridiculous ceremonies should be kept to themselves.”

    I am highly offended that you feel that way along with many others who have commented such racist and rubbish things.
    That is so disrespectful and yous can shove your comments where the sun don’t shine because you don’t know our culture like we do !!!
    We carry out these procedures for a reason and would’nt expect people like yous to understand but its our tradition and thats just the way it is !!!!!!!!!

  13. Toi Tehuatahi, 15. April 2013, 10:29

    Attah go on.. Was this your first time being pohiri/welcomed on to a marae? There is nothing wrong about being welcomed on to a marae and going around to the tangata whenua to give them a hongi or a kiss. its called “whakawhanaungatanga!” Ki ahau nei, this all goes back to “segregation, and racism.” white people always mock Maori. you get welcome on to the marae so you can feel welcome. and wen you get pohiri on to the marae it takes away all the bad energy in each and every person that is getting welcomed on to the marae.

    okay, white people be racist to us black people, and us black people be racist to you white people. but that was back in the 1800s where the blacks and whites were never considered equal. but that was back in the 1800s. we’re in the 2000s now lady.

    now, all i’ve got to say to you is, learn your tikanga maori, learn yur tikanga about marae and learn yur tikanga about “Pohiri”. Maori tikanga, Marae tikanga and Pohiri tikanga has all been descend down to us by our tipuna who have passed on, and we are going to carry on this tridition for ever and always. Yes i am MAORI, and i will be for the rest of my life. we are who we are and no one can change that. i mean you wouldnt like it if us Maori people came to your house and started mocking all the tikanga about your house now would you? Our Marae is like our home. if you dont like the way us Maori run things, then back off!!!!

  14. Helena, 20. April 2013, 11:05

    I am a European New Zealander and am personally saddened by this whole statement and argument that has ensued.

    I am not fluent in Te Reo but have been fortunate enough to experience many powhiri in the years and have been lucky enough to have the purpose of this explained to me over the years.

    Powhiri means “to weave the unknown” when two tribes or groups of people meet is a chance for both parties to suss out the danger or recognise the wairua (the essence) that both tribes bring to the meeting. It is a respectful meeting of two different homes and allows the welcoming party the opportunity to safely bring the visitors in to their home with aroha (love) and introduce them to their inner sanctuary and the stories of their ancestors.

    When you take the opportunity to learn of the tikanga or purpose/intention behind any cultures traditions you gain a far greater understanding of their heritage, the way they learn, communicate, and engage and I wish/hope that Marie had/does take the time to read the background material that was handed to her.

    I myself do not think of myself as a European nor as a Maori but rather as a Kiwi, I was born here and have lived here most of my life but my heritage, my culture, is the product of two nations (and ever more increasingly more cultures) heritage that has pathed the way for a nation that is less divided and where one can appreciate the other for the wairua (essence) each brings.

    I think we are a multi-cultural nation and I rejoice in that, education and understanding of one another is paramount to an evolving peaceful community, we are only a small nation, you can’t ignore any race within it! and why would you? I could not imagine my childhood without learning waiata (songs) and learning the Maori alphabet it’s a part of my heritage.