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New Zealand tourist attraction removes racist ‘offensive’ and ‘grotesque’ character after complaints

A character in a popular tourist attraction in New Zealand is removed after complaints that it is racially offensive.

(Thanks to Hell’s Gate Facebook)

A popular tourist attraction in New Zealand has removed a racially offensive sign after being summoned online.

The sign was displayed at Tikitere, a geothermal park, mud bath and spa in Rotorua with the name “Hell’s Gate” in the 19th century by Irish playwright, Sir George Bernard Shaw.

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The sign featured a cartoon image of a Maori man with tattoos holding a spoon and stood over a cooking pot. In the pan the water was a person bound by a rope above an open flame, and a cut-out in the sign allowed for people to pose under a message reading “Enjoy the water in Hell’s Gate.”

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While the character has reportedly been on display for almost 20 years to the Maori-owned and operated property, it recently drew criticism online when a blogger who identifies as Māori posted on Twitter.

“So apparently if you go to the Hells Gate attraction in Rotorua, there is this f-ing horrible thing you can put your picture’ Moata Tamaira wrote.

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“Am I alone in thinking this is just a grotesque racial stereotype played for fun and that it is actually terribly offensive?”

Many others agree with Tamaira, calling the sign “disgusting.”

“It is wrong on so many levels. I think it was a poor attempt at [humor],” someone wrote.

“It seems that we still have a lot of growing up to do if someone thinks that this is appropriate,” another person said.

Hell’s Gate operations manager Paul Rayner told the New Zealand Herald he left the board to be achieved, but noted this was the first complaint he received in 18 years of working in the spa.

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“We are on Maori-owned and operated. That is the last thing we want to do… we don’t want to cause offence to someone,” Rayner told the Herald.

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According to the Herald, Maori have been bathing in the geothermal muds and hot springs of Tikitere for more than 700 years.

A second sign, which features a devil possesses a pitchfork with a recess for the posing, is still on the site.

Michelle Gant is a writer and editor for Fox News Lifestyle.

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