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Cloaked in controversy: NZ Open winner Brad Kennedy's so-called korowai is in the gun. PICTURE: BRETT PHIBBS/PHOTOSPORT

New Zealand Golf’s again being slammed for presenting a bogus Maori korowai cloak to last Sunday’s winner of the NZ Open at Arrowtown’s Millbrook Resort.

Maori weavers last year criticised NZ Golf for presenting Aussie winner Zach Murray, at The Hills, with what the sports body claimed was a korowai, but which one experienced weaver labelled “a piece of faux fur” and “below par”.

One social media user likened it to a “fluffy couch throw with a maimed rooster sewn round the edge”.

As the feathers flew, NZ Golf promised to review “all aspects of the presentation ceremony pertaining to Maori culture” for the 2020 tournament, including consultation with “appropriate iwi leaders and kaumatua”.

Ahead of last week’s 101st Open, it also stated it had formed an agreement with NZ Maori Golf Association to present the winner this time, another Aussie pro, Brad Kennedy with an “authentic korowai”.

But weaving expert Ata Te Kanawa, whose late mother, Diggeress Te Kanawa, was regarded as NZ’s most renowned weaver, claims the cloak is “absolutely not” an authentic korowai.

Going by the photo she’s seen, she says “I think it looks like a feathered version of Superman’s cape”.

“Even someone that doesn’t know what an authentic one is, can clearly see the fabric
lining.

“We know it’s sewn, and unless you know of a native bird that has rocket-red feathers …
they look pretty artificial to me.

“The beef is they’re using a traditional name, and that name’s ‘korowai’.

“If they want to call it ‘cape’ or ‘cloak’, knock yourself out, that’s absolutely fine.

“If they want to call it a feathered version of Superman’s cape, that’s totally fine as well, but it is no way a korowai.”

A korowai’s a traditional Maori garment handwoven from flax fibre and adorned with
tassles and sometimes feathers, though they’re not meant to be sewn on.

Wellington-based Te Kanawa, who founded an indigenous Maori fashion apparel board,
says what’s really disappointing is she’d heard a news report that NZ Golf had “addressed the learnings of last year”.

“I even dropped an email to [them] and said, ‘good on you, we’re getting on top of this’.”

NZ Golf claimed it consulted with Maori, but Te Kanawa says “that consultation and
direction has clearly been wrong”.

“They might be genuinely in a position where they believe the person that they were
consulting with gave them good advice — it’s a little bit sad, and we acknowledge that that
could have happened.”

NZ Golf CEO Dean Murphy, asked for comment on Wednesday, said: “NZ Golf doesn’t
have any comment to make.”

Instead, he referred Mountain Scene to an earlier media statement in which the garment
was dubbed an “authentic korowai”, called Te Ati a-toa.

Long-time tournament director Michael Glading says: “I’m aware that [NZ Golf] went
to enormous lengths to follow correct protocols.”

scoop@scene.co.nz