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PM apologises for cannibal joke

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New Zealand PM John Key apologised after joking a tribe would eat him

New Zealand PM John Key apologised after joking a tribe would eat him

New Zealand PM John Key apologised after joking a tribe would eat him

The prime minister of New Zealand has been forced to apologise after joking that if he attended a dinner with a Maori tribe, who were once cannibals, that he would have been eaten.

The joke made by John Key has further strained relations with the Tuhoe people who are attempting to win back ownership of tribal lands, which were confiscated 150 years ago by a settler government.

The Te Urewera lands on eastern North Island have caused friction between the two after the Tuhoe accused Mr Key of betraying an earlier agreement with the government to return them.

Mr Key's remark was made while he was addressing a tourism conference and mentioned having a meal with leaders of a tribe - known as iwi in New Zealand - that are Tuhoe's neighbours.

He said: "The good news was that I was having dinner with Ngati Porou as opposed to their neighbouring iwi, which is Tuhoe - in which case I would have been the dinner."

Maori MP Te Ururoa Flavell said the joke was unfortunate and would add to the Tuhoe's sense of injustice.

Mr Flavell said: "Well, the first thing to say is, it's probably correct, and the second thing is - probably not wise in the current climate."

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The Maori tribes were thought to regularly raid other tribes and seize slaves and take part in cannibalistic feasts to create fear among their enemies - but the practice was thought to have ended 200 years ago.

As a result Tuhoe chief negotiator Tamati Kruger said the joke was said to be "in poor taste" and relations were said to be getting worse by the day and that it was unbecoming of a prime minister.

Mr Key has since apologised, he said: "It was a lighthearted joke, a bit of self-deprecating humour. But if anyone is offended, then I deeply apologise."


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