Disney, the company behind some of the world’s most popular children’s films, has been accused of “brown face” over a recently released Halloween costume.
Designed to represent that of Polynesian demigod Maui, who is a lead character in Disney’s upcoming film Moana, the full-body costume consists of a brown-skinned tattooed body suit, bone necklace and grass skirt.
Essentially, children can don the skin of a Polynesian person for fun, before simply removing it at the end of the night.
Disney's Moana costume. source: Disney.
"Your little one will set off on adventures in this Maui Costume featuring the demigod's signature tattoos, rope necklace and island-style skirt. Plus, padded arms and legs for mighty stature," the Disney site writes alongside images of the $44.95 costume.
"[The costume is] no different to putting the image of one of our ancestors on a shower curtain or a beer bottle," Marama Fox, the co-leader of New Zealand's Maori Party told Fairfax Media on Wednesday.
"I wonder what @TheRock thinks about Disney making a Pacific Islander #brownface costume for his upcoming movie," one Twitter user wrote.
Main characters Maui and Moana. Source: Disney.
"Hey @DisneyAnimation -- your Maui "costume" is #brownface + should be REMOVED now. @DisneyMoana please do better," another added.
Speaking to stuff.co.nz, the New Zealand Human Rights Commission explained, "Right now Polynesian people from across the Pacific region are voicing their views about this costume and it's their voices that are important right now.
"We hope Disney listens to the views of the communities and people whose cultures their movie is based upon."
Maui fans can also buy pajamas and t-shirts. Source: Disney.
For some people, though, the costume presents an opportunity to introduce people to the rich Polynesian history.
"My knee-jerk reaction was to recoil," New Zealand journalist Madeleine Chapman (who is of Samoan decent) wrote for spinoff.co.nz, adding, "But after years and years of seeing Samoan Spiderman and Brown Batman at little kids' birthday parties, how incredible it would be to see white kids looking up to and wanting to be like the Polynesian hero in the movies?"
Wigs, clothing accessories and toys are also available through the range.