Prague-based online games developer Endorphina took some flak, but gained wide publicity in New Zealand last week following protests by the Maori public health agency Hapai Te Hauora that its recently launched Maori-themed slot breached Maori-associated intellectual property rights.
A New Zealand law firm communicated the organisation's distress to Endorphina, which subsequently withdrew the game after director Erlene Rodriguez apologised for any offence it may have caused.
She assured all parties involved that there had been no intention to insult the indigenous peoples of New Zealand when the company's creative team put together a theme that included Maori warriors and maidens, along with the famous haka in the company's Maori online slot.
Hapai chief executive Lance Norman explained that his organisation felt the Endorphina product had insulted Maoris, and he had objected on grounds that the developer had used pounamu symbols that are the intellectual property of Ngai Tahu.
“They were using Maori warriors. And when you won, if you got three or four in a row, it would actually come up into a Maori haka which is the intellectual property of Ngati Toa,” he said. “Maori intellectual property has been used as comforting and familiar inducements, with the potential to lure vulnerable people to online gambling.”