RNZ: Scammers target Toitū te Tiriti movement

RNZ: Scammers target Toitū te Tiriti movement



Reporter: Pokere Paewai, RNZ Māori issues reporter


Scammers have targeted the merchandise of Māori designers and artists promoting the Toitū Te Tiriti movement.

The phrase - meaning Honour the Treaty - has become a popular catch cry for activists protesting the government's policies affecting Māori.

Aroha Tamihana - the owner of Maimoa Creative - released a free, downloadable Toitū te Tiriti template in the lead up to Waitangi Day.

She was later alerted by her followers that someone was using her free design to make a profit.

She was able to get the website taken down within 48 hours, but not before a few people were sucked in.

Their website was very sophisticated, very polished, they even had the nerve to put in a pepeha. Which was actually one of the warning signs because their pepeha didn't really make sense when you read it," she said.

Tamihana said scams like this were getting more sophisticated and it was no longer a matter of just looking out for spelling mistakes.

"Honestly I think everyone's a target, scammers don't really care who they scam or where they get the money from, I think they just target whatever is trending, they target vulnerable people or innocent people, people that don't really know what to look out for."

Tamihana said the whole experience has been unpleasant, especially after she reached out to the sham website and they responded with highly threatening e-mails.

She initially considered withdrawing her free templates but decided against it.

"I realized that's kind of letting them win and that's not really fair on the hundreds of other people that actually are really respectful and do support my kaupapa, so it was a passing fleeting thought but in the end I was like 'nah this is going to happen regardless' I just have to be aware of it and on the lookout."

Tamihana said consumers need to look out for reviews and check the websites social media accounts, especially if you're an impulse buyer.