The prime minister wore a Kahu huruhuru; a Māori cloak adorned with feathers and bestowed on chiefs and dignitaries to convey prestige, respect and power, said Mark Sykes, guardian of Māori special collections at Te Papa, the national museum of New Zealand.
On social media in New Zealand the striking image went viral, with many people commenting that the picture captured the inversion of traditional gender roles; a female world leader wearing a powerful cloak while pregnant and representing her country.
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If you're thinking this is a moment of cultural appropriation, read this BBC piece for a broader understanding.
While traditionally worn only within the Maori community, the cloaks can now be seen also on the shoulders of non-Maori New Zealanders – as a gift to a politician or dignitary for a special occasion.
Ms Ardern’s korowai would fall into that very category and Mr Olsen-Reeder cautions not to see it as a case of cultural appropriation.
“Given the premise of that gift to her, what she’s doing is entirely appropriate. That particular korowai has been given to her to signify her as a really important part of New Zealand culture.”