Logged toff: Māori artist’s web plugin replaces king’s coronation with Indigenous news

Hāmiora Bailey says wall to wall Charles III coverage is unappealing to Indigenous people and has devised a solution

A Māori artist has designed a way for the masses to tune out of royal coverage, with a web browser plugin that replaces all monarchy and coronation stories with Indigenous news.

Despite a distance of more that 18,000kms from the palace, New Zealand news headlines have featured a steady flow of royal family gossip: the latest potential snubbing, deep-dive analysis of the new king’s conduct, invitation list scandals and features on the coronation quiche.

For some, the fanfare and compulsive coverage has been grating.

“People are sick of it – they don’t care about how much a diamond costs and who’s wearing what dress,” said Hāmiora Bailey, a Māori artist [ringatoi] who created the plugin. “Across the globe, Indigenous folk are tired of [this] rhetoric around frivolity and class.”

The service, called Pikari Mai!, is a free plugin to download, and promises users an opportunity to “switch off the toff”. Made with agency Colenso BBDO, it uses data scraping to scan webpages for words and images related to the royals, then replaces those with articles linking to Indigenous news produced by Indigenous Māori outlets.

While King Charles III remains New Zealand’s ceremonial head of state, Māori never ceded sovereignty to the crown. New Zealand continues to reckon with a violent colonial legacy – for which the crown has made a number of formal apologies – including land confiscation, atrocities, aggressive warfare and unlawful arrests.

While the app’s creator held that in mind, Bailey said he also hoped to offer a playful vision – one of “independence, where we can talk about our own people, and if we want to we can switch off and we don’t have to rationalise and we don’t have to contextualise ourselves as victim or respondent”.

Māori authors made up about 1.8% of authors at news outlets, he said – and swapping monarchy news for their writing was also a moment to raise the profile of their work, and of Indigenous stories more broadly.

“I want to give my koroua, my grandparents or my elders, and Indigenous nationhood as big of a platform as the crown gets – and why not?”

More broadly, responses to the coronation and the ascent of King Charles have been mixed in New Zealand. The prime minister, Chris Hipkins, is in London this week for the coronation, where he met with the king and was given a tray of warm sausage rolls.

Earlier this week, Hipkins said he wants New Zealand to become a republic, but did not see it as a current political priority, and wider polling has not yet shown strong support for a republic.


Tess McClure in Auckland

The GuardianTramp

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