H1Z1 Removes Maui Skins Following Concerns About Appropriating Maori Culture

H1Z1 Removes Maui Skins Following Concerns About Appropriating Maori Culture

Following concerns raised by New Zealand gamers, the developers of H1Z1 have removed a Polynesian-inspired outfit from an upcoming update.

The skin, themed after the Polynesian trickster demigod Maui (characterised by Dwayne Johnson in Disney’s Moana), featured a mashup of facial tattoos, markings and cultural dress from Polynesian cultures.

The skin was announced on Wednesday as part of a broader introduction to H1Z1‘s upcoming content patch for the PS4. But New Zealand gamers began asking developers Daybreak Games about the origins of the Maui skin, particularly the use of sacred facial tattoos and expressions. A particular bone of contention was also raised with a new skin on an assault rifle: some believed it was supremely insensitive to appropriating Māori motifs only weeks after the worst terrorist attack in New Zealand’s history.

H1Z1 Removes Maui Skins Following Concerns About Appropriating Maori CultureThe Maui skin (right) alongside the new Macho outfit, as was advertised earlier this week on the H1Z1 website. The site has since been updated to only feature the Macho outfit. Image: H1Z1.com/Kotaku Australia

The Māori culture has been replicated in video games before, most recently in Civilization 6 as one of the new factions introduced with the Gathering Storm expansion.

But adding the Māori likeness to a video game isn’t as simple as drawing a new skin. Māori designs, particularly the facial tattoos and expressions used in indigenous performances (including the Haka war dance, which was due to be added to H1Z1 as an emote), tell the story of every Māori tribe and family. They’re highly sacred, which is why Civilization developers Firaxis worked with the Māori Arts & Crafts Institute to ensure their representation of Māori motifs and culture was culturally appropriate.

“[The tattoos are] not just something that you can make up because it has a lot of meaning to the Māori people, and the tattoo that’s put the face tells a story,” Firaxis franchise lead designer Ed Beach explained to Digitially Downloaded.

Kotaku Australia contacted Daybreak yesterday for comment and clarification on the Maui skin or creation. We also contacted the Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, following their work with Civilization 6, to ask whether Daybreak had consulted on the skin’s design. The Institute hadn’t replied by the time of writing, while Daybreak declined to answer whether they had contacted any cultural authorities during the design process. The company did refer us to a statement on Twitter, which announced the skin’s removal.

The company also thanked users for directly raising the issue, noting that it “was definitely not our intention” to offend.

Kotaku Australia has followed up with Daybreak, asking if the Maui skin would be reintroduced to H1Z1 following consultation, or if the skin is being abandoned altogether. As for H1Z1, the rest of the content patch, which adds third-person ADS, a new arcade mode and a Rambo-style Macho outfit, is due for release tomorrow. More details can be found here.


  • Cultural appropriation aside, how the eff is that guy holding on to those handle bars LMAO.

  • Cultural appropriation is such a misnomer. Nobody is ‘appropriating’ (taking) anything. If anything, it is cultural ‘appreciation’ because it looks awesome.

    • I think it falls apart when it’s done lazily without taking the time and effort to understand the culture that is being represented.

    • I don’t see how treating someone’s culture as a prop you were too lazy to even do properly is appreciation.

        • You mean when she went to a religious ceremony wearing the appropriate cultural dress?

          No, I don’t think those are the same things. Nor do you. I may disagree with you a lot on here, but I’ve seen enough of your posts to know you’re not incapable of discerning context. Don’t be obtuse.

          • I’m just saying that being ‘lazy’ is a matter of opinion. Jacinda Ardern chucked on a headscarf which took her about 2 seconds. These devs obviously spent some time putting together the skin. It wasn’t a lazy effort, at least in my opinion.

          • Making a meal isn’t spending ten seconds throwing food on a plate. You need to know how to cook. You need to buy or grow the ingredients. You need to spend the time to make it work.
            You saw a picture of a person with a scarf on. That wasn’t the only thing that happened. There was all kinds of work going on in the background to make sure the community accepted her presence and that she didn’t upset anyone at a really bad time.

            These guys might have spent time making a skin, but if they’d have spent ten minutes on wikipedia they’d have known that this wasn’t going to go down well with anyone from the pacific islands. Comparing the two isn’t just a lazy argument, it’s poor taste.

      • Even if it isn’t appreciation, or appropriation, it’s certainly representation which is a good thing. These ‘concerns’ are utterly stupid.

        • I’m sure the people who are actually involved and have actual stakes in this will thank you for your sage advice.

        • Taking into account that the concerns were raised by Neozelanders, I’m going to say that the mentality that you exhibit in which the people with the original cultural background are being called stupid in order to protect the western corporation making millions of dollars is very much appropriation.

      • But the problem is where do you stop. I’ve seen people crusade to tenth degree under the warbanner of ‘cultural appropriation’. People who have continuously harrased restaurants and various other public venues to remove any form of artwork depicting their nationality.
        From my point of view it seems utterly bizarre. Like they are trying to protect their culture by systematically trying to erase it from the public eye.

        • I think at the end of the day, people are scared that their culture will be diluted, distorted or metamorphosed into something alien to them. They are scared that the ‘use’ of their culture by ‘the other’ will eventually lead to them being marginalised within their own culture. This is something to which I think globalisation and the internet has contributed significantly.

        • They’re not trying to erase it, though. They’re trying to defend their ownership of a thing that is theirs and not yours. People use things they don’t understand and they fuck it up. Constantly. If it wasn’t a fuck up, there’d very rarely be an outcry.

          The Moana thing is a good example. Positive representation of Pacific Island nations in a big budget movie was generally a good thing. In order to make sure it was generally a good thing, Disney went to great lengths to ensure they didn’t fuck it up. They didn’t please everyone and realistically you never can, but generally speaking, taking cultural artifacts you don’t understand and using them in “cool” ways is usually going to make more angry people than happy ones.

          A recent example of fucking it up is the Queen movie from last year. They made the movie and released it in Asian territories without realising that the “cool” costume design of a Rising Sun tshirt was the Asian equivalent of a swastika. It is a cool picture. That’s why it was used as a flag for the expansionist power of Japan in the early 20th century. There are still people alive today who had their villages slaughtered under that flag. There are still women alive today who were kidnapped and used as army sex slaves for years by the people flying that flag. It’s a flag that is still being used by the people in Japan who think the only crime that happened in WW2 was the A-bomb.

          You need to understand that cultural context if you’re going to use cultural artifacts and as a general rule, if it’s not your culture, you probably don’t get the context.

          • And it shouldn’t be. And there’s a lot of controversy about that. Trust me. There’s a fucking huge cultural war going on within Japan right now about their place in the world and the people who are trying to reassert Japan as a formidable military power have significant government sway right now. It’s causing real problems.

            Also, please don’t ignore the main thrust of my post to nitpick technicalities. That’s lame. Don’t be lame. Either engage in good faith or don’t post.

        • Work with the people of the culture you are trying to represent in order to make sure you are being respectful, sensitive and knowledgeable. That’s what Coco did and it was widely celebrated by Hispanics.

    • appropriate
      gerund or present participle: appropriating
      take (something) for one’s own use, typically without the owner’s permission.

      It’s not a misnomer at all, the dev’s have used that cultural imagery without permission or consultation and used it in association with a violent game and weapons in said game. Some more empathy and less ignorance is required if you don’t think this is insensitive to their cultural values and recent events in NZ.

      • Oh yeah? And what about Prime Minister Ardern putting on a hijab? Or Trudeau and his Bollywood outfit? ‘Oh, it’s only a gesture of solidarity!’ ‘He’s only showing respect!’ Typical double-standards from the snow-flake internet warriors for great justice. It’s only offensive if it makes us clutch our pearls… sheesh

        • Didn’t you get the memo, less inclusion is now apparently how we get a more inclusive society.

        • Your point would only make sense if either didn’t consult the appropriate people and showed up wearing a fucking tea towel or silk bloody pajamas.

        • She put on a hijab as a sign of respect after a massarce that killed more than 50 people.

          You using this as an argument is frankly disgusting and cowardly.

          • What a load of crap. She put on the hijab as a cynical and easy way to appear sympathetic to the victims. Same with blaring out the call to prayer. Obviously it worked on some…

          • God forbid she try and be sympathetic to people who had just had 50 people slaughtered at a place of worship. Clearly she should have ignored them according to you.

          • There are better ways to be sympathetic than playing dress-up. Particularly when you use a religious garment from a religion that you do not belong to.

          • You dont get to make that call.

            The fact that the community was thankful for what she did shows you are in the wrong.

          • What…like spending all that time mourning with the victims, supporting them with funeral costs and legislation against military weapons? The argument that this was a hollow gesture is ignorant of what she has done and moronic at best. Grow up!

            Regardless, not a fair comparison to the topic anyway.

          • We are talking about appropriation, which she did/didn’t. I don’t see why the reason factors into it.

  • Seems like a rare example of a reasonable complaint being handled reasonably. There’s hope.

        • So let’s just ignore all of the ‘Westernisation’ of almost every other culture in the world. Of course, when that happens it’s ‘cultural imperialism’ rather than ‘appropriation’. Let’s not spoil the narrative!

          • The question you need to be asking yourself is “who profits”? You’ll find out that for both scenarios, it is a western corporation who does, in most cases. So is there truly a paradox? Or is it just a “narrative” by all these ungrateful minorities?

          • I don’t know what you’re trying to say here. Are you doing people aren’t allowed to choose what their culture is? It that making the best of the cultural shifts they’ve had forced on them makes them hypocrites? That it’s normal and fine that Eurocentric culture has continuously encroached on pretty much every single other culture and they should be happy to have a new, better one?

            Like… There’s no scenario I can see here that doesn’t come off as really imperialist.

          • So many phone typos in this. Really wish editing a post didn’t automatically send it to moderation…

  • I wouldn’t call it cultural appropriation. I would call that skin an insensitive racist caricature.

    Technicallyy the entirety of overwatch is appropriating many different cultures.

  • This is ridiculous. They didn’t just slap together a skin. They studied and consulted the proper people take make sure this wouldn’t happen. It is not a joke to the developers.

    People are too sensitive -_-

    • Actually cinamyn, many kiwi gamers asked Daybreak directly to clarify if Māori or Polyneasian artists had been consulted in the development of this, as many artistic choices were incorrect .
      They received no response and the skins + their public statement was release less than 24 hours after.

      If the proper people were consulted, then yes there would have been absolutely no issue at all. Their silence and deletion was in itself silent confirmation that this was not the case.

      • So, Ross, are many Kiwis planning on harassing every tattoo artist who offers ‘tribal’ tattoos? Or was this just low-hanging fruit for the virtue-signalling brigade?

        • Tattoo artists probably aren’t looking to adorn assault rifles with Maori motifs weeks after an enormous massacre, though.

          • Man, that’s a bit of a reach. People didn’t stop slagging off the Catholic church in the wake of the Notre Dame fire. We can’t expect people to walk on eggshells indefinitely, particularly after there has been an appropriate outpouring of sympathy and solidarity.

          • Sure, I hear you. But we’re not talking a year or two years here. This is literally a matter of weeks, less if you consider the gun legislation that passed. And that’s not much time at all for people who were affected, or know someone close who was (or part of the community etc).

    • They specifically did not do that. Firaxis did. Which is why nobody was pissed off about Firaxis doing it.

  • This is my culture and the whole thing makes me laugh and shake my head at how insanely complex it all is.

    I do wish people would stop bringing up Moana as an example of Polynesian culture though, I may have enjoyed the film for what it was and I may let my son watch it as an entry in to his heritage but it’s also one of worst cases of cultural appropriation Disney has ever done.
    Even with heavy consultation from various groups it still manages to mash together multiple cultures that are completely different, water it down and deliver a pile of nonsense that ends up representing nobody.
    I could literally spend all day picking apart everything wrong with the film and the problem of lumping all Polynesians under such a broad term as Polynesian culture.
    I mean Jesus Christ, they made little coconut people for shits sake and with all that consultation nobody stood up and said, “What the actual fuck?!”

    • Dude, in Moana the mash-up was deliberate. They didn’t want to just make it based on one culture. It’s meant to be fictitious, not historical. And a lot of the Pacific Islanders were involved with the film – they apparently didn’t have too much of a problem with it. I’m not saying your feelings aren’t valid. But I am saying that it would be impossible to please everyone.

      • That’s my point though, it’s a fictional mash up that always gets floated when ever Polynesian culture is mentioned.

        As I said I enjoyed it for what it was and its something I can use to introduce my own kid to his history but a large part of that entails knowing and showing him why and where it’s wrong.

        On a side note and not in anyway arguing, there has been a bit of criticism of how much consultation Disney actually did, they talked the talk but but they also greatly overstated how much walking that actually entailed, it was mostly symbolic.
        A few names tied to the film through rumour ended up having nothing to do with it and as I said at the end, I can’t think of a single islander that wouldn’t have pointed out the problem with making little Polynesian coconut people.
        (They were a real people and coconut is common slur toward island based Polynesians, it’s really hard to imagine how it got through)

        • I gotta say I using a disney movie to introduce anyone to a culture will only ever leave the instrctor with disappointment.
          Just look at the bastardisation of he 12 labours of Hercules. Now that movie is flawed! One, Hercules was the Roman version of Heracles so his father should be Jupiter not Zeus.
          Two Hera was not his mother (He was only a half god because Zeus was incredibly unfaithful ALL the time). Infact she tried to kill him many many times and once sent him into a blind rage of madness.
          Three, Hercules murdered his wife and children in bloodlust, this was the entire reason for his labours which were his penance for such a horrible crime.
          The movie was grossly inaccurate…but on the other hand page I can’t help respect artistic licence to some degree.
          I still enjoyed the movie and I can’t say a rendition that stuck to the original source material would have been an enjoyable watch. Let alone something I could watch with my daughter.

          Also side note… they were real people? The coconut pirates from Moana were called the Kakamora, which were rather loosely based on a small mythological goblin like scavanger creature that originated from the Solomon islands. Probably changed (like the Hercules myth) to make the meeting vie more entertaining, rather than promote a slur nobody has probably even heard of until you mentioned it.

          The way cultural appropriation is being touted these days we are going to get the Irish to finally rise up against lucky charms.

          • Thays exactly my point though.
            I’m not talking about its inaccuracies or asking for the film to better represent, I’m saying you don’t bring up Disney films when talking about these cultures and history, like Hercules when talking about Greeks and Greek mythology or Pocahontas when talking about Native Americans and they are even more grounded in their respective cultures than Moana.

            I said I enjoyed the film for what it is, I’m not calling for a boycott, raging on Twitter or calling on Disney to do anything (like they ever would anyway)and to be honest the film deals in quite a few positive aspects also, Polynesians crossing the pacific to colonise the various islands was greatly dismissed for an extremely long time as it was seen they weren’t advanced enough to do so, it was still subject to heavy debate when I was as school in the 90’s and is part of a growing trend in world history that ancient peoples weren’t as dumb as previously thought.

            As for the slur, in context of having sought consultation, it’s not something any islander isn’t going to know, hence why I said it was a strange thing to let slip through.
            It might not be well known to everyone in the world like the N word but it’s certainly known to every islander.
            For the sake of conversation scholars have come to think the Kakamura were actually original or local inhabitants linked to the little people’s found throughout the pacific and parts of Asia, either killed off before or after the islands were colonised.

          • Oh, to add…
            Yeah cultural appropriation along with other stuff gets thrown around a lot these days and if you have any interest in history you know that it’s basically the history of the world in both positive and negative ways, but it is what it is man.

    • That’s because we want a film, not a goddamn animated documentary. That would be ridiculous and stupid.

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