Disney has withdrawn a kids’ costume promoting the film Moana from its stores after being accused of cultural appropriation.
The costume is a full-body suit with brown skin, traditional tattoos, a grass skirt and a bone necklace. It represents the character Maui (played by Dwayne Johnson), who many Polynesians regard as a demi-god and ancestor.
The decision comes after the outfit attracted criticism, with tweeters saying: “our brown skin is not a costume”.
The New Zealand Human Rights Commission then issued a statement calling on Disney to “listen to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon.”
Disney has removed the costume from stores and responded with a statement, saying: “The team behind Moana has taken great care to respect the cultures of the Pacific Islands that inspired the film, and we regret that the Maui costume has offended some.
“We sincerely apologise and are pulling the costume from our website and stores.”
Cultural appropriation has not been the only source of controversy over Disney’s depiction of Maui, as the film attracted criticism over the character’s size, with Samoan professional rugby player Eliota Fuimanono Sapolu writing on Facebook that “Maui looking like after he fished up the Islands, he deep fried em and and ate em”.
Moana is a story about a young girl who teams up with the demi-god Maui to make an ocean voyage and save her people.
It is set for UK release in December