Māori influencers refuse to promote online gambling sites

Māori influencers refuse to promote online gambling sites
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Despite a number of Māori social media influencers endorsing online gambling through promotional codes and special discounts, two Māori influencers from Hawke’s Bay are standing firm against the allure of these offshore sites, despite repeated requests for collaboration.

Jabez Makawe, a respected barber and widely followed content creator, was approached by an influencer manager from RollXO and N1Bet - two sites based in the island nation of Curacao in the Caribbean. They proposed he create a brief 20-30-second video to be shared in his social media stories.

“I didn’t want to do it… It just didn’t feel right to push it on my audience that I’ve worked hard to build,” Makawe says.

The manager has sent at least three more emails to Jabez since the initial request.

Currently, the site boasts a roster of Māori influencers, including Nix Adams and Millie Elder Holmes, who are actively promoting it.

Though Jabez hasn’t personally battled gambling addiction, he is aware of its devastating impact, particularly within Māori and Pasifika communities.

“I have clients come in hyped, and then I don’t see them for months. When they return, they often share how gambling has wrecked their lives, leaving them unable to pay rent.”

Pairama Wright, another influencer, shared a video last week detailing his harrowing journey as a former gambling addict.

“Gambling isn’t often seen as a life-ruining addiction but it is,” Wright asserts.

He emphasises the profound responsibility that comes with being an influencer, urging peers to use their platforms wisely.

“First, it’s kino (bad) that they’re promoting gambling at all. Second, these influencers understand the system and its impacts.

“To me, a true influencer addresses critical world issues, political matters, societal challenges — not ‘use this code to gamble’. That’s not influencing; that’s he mea kino (a bad influence). We must be better stewards of our influence.”