"A study of Maori cannibalism by historian Paul Moon has prompted a racism complaint to the Human Rights Commission. Sent anonymously to Dr Moon, the complaint said This Horrid Practice "describes the whole of Maori society as violent and dangerous. This is a clearly racist view claiming a whole ethnic group has these traits".
The commission has taken no action on it yet but a spokesperson said yesterday any mediation would occur in confidence and the complainant's name would not be released. The commission said books and publications were covered by the Human Rights Act, however there was a high threshold that had to be met to prevent unwarranted incursion into the right to freedom of expression.
Released in August, the book posits that consuming vanquished enemies' mana had little to do with the underlying reason for Maori cannibalism. Instead cannibalism, in pre-colonial times, was simply about "rage and humiliation".
Dr Moon said he was disappointed that a complaint had been made. "I spent several years researching this book, using an enormous body of documentation, and I am not about to denounce it just because it upsets a few people.
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