Apr 22, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

Art or Insult (+photos) | Puehu Blog

2 min read

We get that contemporary western art is about pushing boundaries and creating a space for the many voices that sit outside cultural and social norms (both western and non-western), we GET that, but we have to agree with the following Puehu korero (a collaborative blog, that features original content on art and culture).


5 October 2010 -Artist Stacey Roper, looks to appeal to the niche racist market. Urban Maori Huffer doll. Spraypaint in one hand plastic bag in the other. This from the back of the box:

Totally terrible tales from a South Auckland Hood: She has no life worth living. A write off. Hated at home by her solo mum. Living in a state house. No money for school books. The Teachers think shes dumb. Shes too embarrassed to go to school and no one really cares. She no longer believes in herself and life for her is a shitty existence. She chooses a chemical escape. She falls into a trap set by societies clichsto be continued.

ThisHuffing Urban Maori Doll atRebel Yellgallery on K-Road, comes complete with a hoodie, spraypaint, huffing bagand a spraypaint smear taking the place of a moko (traditional tattoo).

Its Parrs kitsch meets a k-road stereotype. Dont you hate it when others start to represent your culture. Iprefer the impotent souvineer store kitsch to the power triping gallery shots at hitting tropes that are always out of their cultural venacular.

Imagine one guy with a skin head turning to his mate with a skin head and nodding, thats who this type of bull shit art is for.

EDITOR UPDATE: the doll sells for $500 on the www.staceyroper.com website and the artist is described as such -tattooed, skateboarding, roller derby playing Art Director turned artist, brings you a colourful array of air brushed pop art and repackaged toys from her slightly twisted,humorous and sometimes dark world (her bio states that she was brought up by a middle class family on dairy farm in stratford).

26 thoughts on “Art or Insult (+photos) | Puehu Blog

  1. I AM DISGUSTED AND HIGHLY OFFENDED AT THIS DOLL…..for the actions of a small few you put this on a maori doll wearing traditional clothing which stands for all Maori … WHAT if the role was reversed and we had a white doll and put on his four head gready land grabbing European of colonial period …. and all you disgusting people who think this is ok best check ya self you sound like you have a racist issue within yourself

  2. I AM DISGUSTED AND HIGHLY OFFENDED AT THIS DOLL…..for the actions of a small few you put this on a maori doll wearing traditional clothing which stands for all Maori … WHAT if the roll was reversed and we had a white doll and put on his four head gready land grabbing European of colonial period ….

  3. I think its brilliant. Keep doing what your doing loving your stuff. if you feel this kind of art work disrespects maori YOUR WRONG. it speeks about the issues urban maoris face, traditions of old and where they are at in our day and age. We should respect this type of work it shows raw emotion and the struggles we face as a urbanized culture.

    1. you stupid fool hahahahaha IF YOUR MAORI CHECK YOURSELF THIS IS PUTTING YOU DOWN AND ALL YOUR FAMILY you clown kia marama mai ko koe hoki tena tare e noho pena ai I roto I tena pouaka …. its representing maori as a whole

  4. Wow… I’m amazed how many people unleash hate speak onto artists when they don’t understand a piece of work.
    She didn’t create an entire run of these dolls like the article implies. She made this as a one off statement piece to draw attention to a particular issue, one that’s pertinent to her as a part Maori woman. And like all artists, she’s entitled to sell her work.
    Also, despite being an exceptionally talented painter/designer (yup, I took the time to look at the rest of her work on her website) she chose to use this commercialized doll as a basis – that’s a message in itself. Manufacturing companies and souvenir stores are already turning a profit from commodifying Maori culture – they’re the ones making and selling products like this one, so why all the anger directed solely at the artist and not at them? She’s subverted this product and created a dialogue that she, and many other Maori and Non-Maori, care about.
    Yes, she is trying to challenge people’s perceptions, but so many of these responses seem like a real knee jerk reactions to me. I encourage you all to think more before you slam her.

    1. Hi Missy… hate is a very strong word!!!I surely have tried not to use that word in my posts. I think it’s not hate… … it’s a very strong opinion just like the artist has a right to her opinion. I too have looked at her work and it’s really good actually! But this doll in my opinion is not a good model. Why? Whilst she has highlighted a very real issue to humanity not just Maori, she has placed a blanket of stereotyping on Maori as a whole. And how can we prove that our intention is not hate??? How do we know this is not a knee/ jerk reaction??? Because my family has done the right thing and contacted her and talked face to face… now that’s art in authentic action… her art is alive and not stuck in stagnate mode!! Both parties have walked away from the conversation with a greater appreciation of the other side. My opinion is still the same… I don’t like it. As for those manufacturing companies… if I had the power I would challenge them too… intellectual property in dissaray! If you take a deeper look, you will see that these companies are well protected by law. To unravel all that will take a long while… but it is happening albeit slowly. So Stacey, if you ever read this… thank you for allowing us to have our say and for listening! In MY EYES… you have deepened as an artist 😉 Go Taranaki!!!!!

      1. Hey there,
        Yup… I agree hate is a very strong word, but reading some of these responses and the expletives and names they call her I think it’s totally justified.
        I have to ask if you contacted her before you wrote your post calling her a dumbass and saying ‘How DARE you put me in that box of yours,’ or after? You also mentioned ‘My People’… so I’m wondering if at the time you didn’t know that Stacey has Maori heritage, or of all the experiences that had informed her decision to create this particular piece, and whether they might actually be ‘her people’ too… if you’re inclined to claim ownership of a culture in those particular words. That, I suspect is a text-book knee jerk reaction.

        Having said that I think it’s admirable of you to contact her to learn more, assuming that you did it in an appropriate way and didn’t simply call or email her in an abusive manner before she managed to get her side across, as I believe she’s been getting a bit of this. I never said people weren’t entitled to their opinion, just to make them informed ones, rather than ones that made assumptions about what sort of person Stacey is.

        I also believe that you DO have the power to challenge those manufacturing companies if you feel that strongly, I was raised by a social worker and have devoted much of my life to challenging issues that are far bigger than me, I think it’s part of my DNA! You never know when you’ll be able to inspire change when you go about things in a calm and informed way.

        1. Hey there to you too!
          Contact was made after my ‘dumbass’ comment and let me assure you the underlying conviction then was still the same when contact was made… my family’s conviction did not change just because contact with her was made after the fact. If you read my other posts you will understand why that ‘pathetic box’ comment was made… and this also was directed to Stacey. I also knew she was part Maori before contact and that she hailed from Taranaki where my great grandmother comes from. In my other posts I have stated that I advocate for those (Maori or not) who are constantly trying to break that mould… because she used ‘Urban Maori’ and ‘south side’ I had to say something! The reason I say ‘my people’ is because I am second generation to the urban migration. So… my grand parents and my parents and their siblings are products of the urban Maori migration… and so am I. And because of this,(as mentioned in my other posts) this was and still isn’t a knee/ jerk reaction.

          Why would there be any assumption that contact wasn’t done in the appropriate manner? If she didn’t have a chance to share her experiences then there would not have been a mutual understanding… right??? Like mentioned in my post… both parties walked away with that.

          In regards to those companies, our voices are out there so I don’t at all doubt the power of one. However, I strongly believe in the power of many which is reiterated in this maori proverb… e hara taku toa i te takitahi, i te takitini ke (my strength is not found in one, but found in many). Are you coming on the next hikoi to parliament? We will (if not for all)for some part of that journey. Decisions made are very well informed but sometimes… a proactive stance needs to be made and that is sometimes not a calm one. Who did we learn this from? Nga Tamatoa, Whina Cooper, Timoti Karetu and the mums and dads in the Maori community that fought to keep the maori language alive!!

          So… thank you for your compliments… I have enjoyed responding to them. Hey… who knows… we might bump into each other during the march aye 😉

  5. Why dont we see white dolls with paint round their mouths. Cos thats a reality for some of our white people too. No its too easy to get a reaction from maori huh. Interesting to note the gallery’s number is disconnected. Guess bad times fall on this artist too. Maybe Stacey Roper needs a job…anyone? Her views wouldnt be welcome in my corporate office where there are just as many brown faces as white. See, in my reality the maori landscape is changing, and its Stacey who needs to move on. Call her an artist? Hell no. Ralph Hotere now theres an artist

  6. Just another redneck peckerhead looking for retribution against an enemy that dosn’t exit . Unfortunately all the find , is their nemesis {maori people} are also their landlords :-))).
    No suprise then when they find themselves on the dole after failing as an artist .

  7. what a cheek putting that stuff round the mouth of a beautiful Maori girl wearing a puipui, head band – those girls are kapa haka, strong, confident, proud. This doll says alot about the girl who did it, she needs help and is sad that she is not involved in kapa haka (or anything probably, has too much time on her hands)and is not all the above.

  8. I think most people are pretty naive, it’s obviously a sarcastic take on realty out there and as with any artist they take their source from what the see and provide art that provokes emotion…all those haters to this peice of “art” have now thought about the social issues it represents. so what it’s a maori girl, thats the point! I have actually seen young and old Maori sniffing glue or paint on the street and the issue is still there, maybe if you actually saw the whole collection of social issues represented in the dolls this artist created then you would get the point, instead of thinking it was a rasist slur…the barbie girl was great and so was the Gi joe type doll that already came in a body bag!

  9. Context People… All things must be considered in context….. Often art is a snapshot in time of something an artist sees, feels, percieves etc etc…. Making a judgment call on the intentions or even the character of an artist from a snapshot like this is not only ignorant but immature. Art is an expression….. I’d hate for people to take ‘snapshots’ of my conversations / expressions and publish them for the world to judge. Grow up people!! Oh… and yes…. I’m actually a Maori myself… Does this make me feel discriminated against?? No!!! My IDENTITY doesn’t come from all you people out there!!! So stop moaning and complaining about so called labels you THINK people are putting on you!!!

    1. To Think Bigger. If you want to put that doll into context, then take that doll to Otara or Manurewa, or to a grass roots kapahaka group that upholds a strong sense of community and things maori… and see how it fits into context! I know what reaction this doll will get. So… art has an emotive aspect to it and expressing oneself through art is good, but responses to any art whether positive or negative is inevitable. My arguement is, to classify URBAN MAORI (as the box says)as sniffers and putting that ideal on an icon doll that has long been represented as Maori… is an insult. I didn’t like it then, and I don’t like it now. It’s not about growing up… it’s about YES making a sound judgement through personal experiences and achievements as being Maori. However, there is one thing I do agree with you on… my IDENTITY as Maori is not subject to anyone, anything, not even a doll. However, I will open my mouth for those who are constantly trying to break that toy box mould… Maori or not.

  10. I love how easy it is to sling mud online. It’s pathetic.

    Too bad “once were warriors” really does exist out there and, yes, creates and reinforces stereotypes but also draws home truths to many. Just look up the stats on Maori and Domestic Violence and poverty – it’s all there. The “Urban Maori” also exists and for the exact reasons as described on the packaging. You can’t change something you deny exists. Just because you made it out of the ghetto doesn’t mean that many others won’t or can’t. Get out of your urban middle class white worlds, Maori or not, that’s the worlds I hear your voices spewing from. Denial ain’t helping ‘your people’.

    1. how many other cultural dolls depicting the same messages are out there buddy ? .
      Mate you must have issues with Maori to be so hard assed about our opinions , and yet Tangata Whenua still let you have your say .
      Another thing , where is the denial , I’ve never denied situations such as this don’t exist , YOU SAID THAT Not us .
      Anyway you have a nice day 🙂 .

    2. To Gong. You don’t need to tell me that ‘once were warriors’ exist, I know it exists. Drawing on home truths may have its place, but its about moving beyond that and looking towards a better future. A better future for single mums, a better future for families living from paycheck to paycheck not having the means to save even one dollar, a better future for families working hard to merely exist everyday below the poverty line… for those people I will advocate for! I would find more pleasure in pulling up my sleeves rather than creating an image that in first contact portray URBAN MAORI as glue sniffers. I have seen the statistics, not only in domestic violence and poverty (which has improved in the last 20yrs by the way), but also in economic growth for maori, educational success leading from primary into adult tuition for maori, unemplyment for maori, and health for maori. Urban Maori have moved forward in all these areas… small movements in some and huge leaps in others. so thats what I mean when I say… the Urban Maori landscape has changed and continues to get better. It’s about being PROACTIVE and making it better for my neighbour and for the kids walking down the street with nowhere to go… and that Gong my people would be proud of! That spew that you talk about… it runs deep from a world founded on this… e hara taku toa i te takitahi, i te takitini ke.

  11. Offensive and insulting. Why doesnt the artist bring those dollas to the Otara fleamarket and face the reactions. How dare you

  12. This doll and the message it sends is a bloody insult… once again it capsualises only the negative shit that maori have to battle with everyday to get ahead. thanks to you dumbass… you have just reinforced the ethnocentric stigma glue that has followed my people for many generations.i tell ya what… u might like your slightly twisted, humorous and sometimes dark world but dont u DARE put me in that pathetic little toy box of yours.

    Ngapuhi proud!

  13. This seems to be a play on Maori stereotypes (duh) and as she said societies clichs. The to be continued part leaves space for the new and improved Urban Maori doll. It brings to light all the bullshit genaralisations placed upon Maori along with the lesser known lack of self confidence that occurs as a result of teachers etc who hold these same beliefs. Recently just having a Gemima doll was considered racist so whoever was to buy this to justify their own racist views would either have to hide it or put it in their National Front trophy case. So that leads me to think that the Gemima doll is a way of painting such generalisations as racism as opposed to truth. So im not insulted but then again I never believed teachers who didnt believe in me. Mauri ora.

    1. Thank you Anaru for a slightly more educated response rather than automatic insult.

      This is merely bringing attention to an issue through a one-off doll that was part of a series by a part-Maori female artist.

      I doubt there were many profits to be made given the time and detail put into this handmade one off doll.

  14. I used to take in street kids who came to me looking like that. I don’t like the doll any more than I like drawings of dead bodies, but unfortunately it’s a accurate picture of solvent abuse and over 90% of the young people I took in were Maori. It’s “poor man’s alcohol” and if this results in some useful action on the whole drug-and-alcohol problem among young urban Maori it might even do a bit of good.

    Most of the unsung heroes I knew who looked after street kids weren’t part of any organization, and several were street people themselves. Mainstream welfare agencies (with the exception of a couple of churches, one of which did a regular late-night free-coffee run) wouldn’t go near them because the kids were inveterate liars, hard to keep track of and impossible to control. Do the easy welfare work first, ne?

    The cops used to lecture me about associating with undesirables and said I deserved all the shit I got. They even accused me of being a drug dealer when I called them to remove a drunken young man who was smashing my flat over.

    Tell the silly bitch who makes those dolls to stop making them and give the proceeds to some organization like the City Mission that does good work with street kids.

  15. these dolls are the physical art equivalent of ‘once were warriors’.huffing much like domestic violence are not solely a maori problem, but are prevalent among low socio-economic communities of any race or creed. the fact that many maori are listed among these communities is the real issue. this artist making money off our suffering is simply another example of the cultural capital keeping the tangata whenua down. lift our people from poverty, instill the mana that is our proud heritage in our younger generation and the issue goes away…

  16. Ohh sorry.. i should have posted why I would paint that crap on the mouths. is because……. we lie…. talk shit.. !! Not discriminating No, just making an example. Learn how to paint MOFO,.

  17. This makes me wana go buy all white dolls and paint shit foaming from the mouth, because of one idiot that thinks he an artist? Artist? Racist idiot that hasn’t researched habits of misunderstood prejudged youths. I challenge you so called artist to prove this is an only Maori “habit”,”problem”. You will surely lose! 😛

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