Maori slam Ghost Hunters International as ‘gauche’

As paranormal investigators, we often have to walk a fine line. Research needs to be done, and the best place to investigate the paranormal is in places that are reported to be haunted. The problem is, many places that have high incidents of supposedly paranormal activity are places where great tragedies happened, such as asylums, hospitals and prisons. So these are the places that many ghost hunters want to investigate, and where ghost tours usually happen. But as the popularity of ghost hunting has grown, so has the opposition from the families of the people who may have died at these locations and the community at large. Ghost Hunters International is now catching some flak from the Maori of New Zealand.

The international crew of ghost hunters secretly filming at Napier Prison have been condemned as “gauche” by local Maori activists.

The prison is the site of several hangings, including that of famed Maori warrior Kereopa Te Rau, who hanged the missionary Reverend Carl Volkner outside his Opotiki church, and ate his eyeballs.

Ghost hunters international kris williams maori
"We're, like, totally respectful and stuff."

Denis O’Reilly, a close observer of iwi affairs in Napier, said the television series ghost-hunting at the Napier Prison, a Government-owner property landbanked for possible use in treaty claim settlement, was inappropriate. “Maori history and Kereopa should be treated with respect and that’s not what’s being done with the ghost busters here, there’s no need for cheap thrills. It’s the lowest common denominator of a reality TV show, it’s gauche in the extreme, and not where we should be positioning Hawke’s Bay tourism.”

However, Mr O’Reilly said Peter Wells’ new book, Sparrow on a Rooftop, which was this week awarded the $100,000 Michael King Writers’ Fellowship, had a strong following and was exactly how the situation should be treated. “It’s great that someone is doing some research into the story of Kereopa Te Rau, it’s an important story.”

The group of about 20 Ghost Hunters International staff were reportedly attracted to the prison, which was open between 1862 and 1993, after reports of “strange sights and sounds”, said co-manager of the prison, Marion Waaka.

She said the decision to let ghost hunters film was not taken lightly.

“We have to be respectful and we take our guardianship very seriously.

Even with the ghost-hunters there it wasn’t taken lightly, and it wasn’t for any tourism aspect, it was more for us living there and making us feel comfortable and the people visiting feel comfortable,” she said.

Ghost Hunters International is produced for Sky on the Skyfy channel not yet available in New Zealand.

There are two sides to this argument, and both are valid in their own ways. But seeing as how the Ghost Hunters franchise has now become a circus of unrealistic sensationalism in the quest for ratings, I can see why the Maori people are upset. I wonder if they would be more open to a smaller, more serious team who was actually there to investigate claims of the paranormal, rather than a TV show that tries to make the viewer jump out of their seat by having investigators freak out over seeing a spider or a bat.

What are your thoughts on investigating haunted locations while still remaining respectful to the families of the deceased and the community at large?

4 comments on “Maori slam Ghost Hunters International as ‘gauche’

  1. Jason, this was an EXCELLENT article. It points out a big problem in paranormal investigation, tourism, etc. It’s why I have no tolerance for trespassers. Some like to think they’re tough for doing stuff like that, but in the end it’s just disrespectful. So are tours that charge exorbitant amounts and play on the macabre sensationalism of whatever gruesome event(s) happened there are, by nature, people are drawn to the spot to see. In the end, ghost seekers (be they investigators or travellers like myself) have to always, always, ALWAYS remember these were real people. In some cases they left behind people that are still alive and mourning them. At least GHI got persmission to be there. Hopefully they treated the site and any spirits that may be there with respect. Again, awesome post!

    1. Thanks Court! It is definitely a tough situation, and trying to balance the research with respect is very difficult. I don’t usually defend Ghost Hunters, but they did get permission this time, and you can’t please everyone all the time. there will always be people who are unhappy. My bigger issue here is that TAPS is using this for ratings and not research, and because it’s now been on TV, every ghost hunting group in a 100 mile radius will be clamoring to get in and investigate!

  2. After reading this article I ran across a link to your comments concerning Ghost Hunters – Season 6. You made a lot of good points and accurate observations. Although I still watch Ghost Hunters, I have had problems with the show and especially one investigator for a long time now. I will start out with the problem of Steve. When Steve and Tango are “investigating” it is like they go into the situation oblivious to anything going on around them. It is like their brains are turned off and they are in spider or bug mode. Steve never collects any evidence and I actually remember one episode in an early season where a shadow/partial apparition appeared right next to him and he missed it. Whenever Ghost Hunters goes to a commercial with a teaser showing Steve reacting or screaming……..It is always a bug of some sort. He has more phobias than anyone I have ever seen. I think he is useless and like one of your other readers pointed out, the show is much better with them absent. As far as K.J. and his partner, at least they do try to collect evidence. They seem to be concentrating on what they are doing instead of playing around with a completely vaccuous mind like Steve and Tango. My main problem with the show is that STeve is an embarrasement and acts like a 8 year old tattle-tale…especially when Brian was with the show. Maybe he is good at reviewing evidence but like you, I have seen him completely misinterpret easily understandable EVP’s. Yes, they have “sold out” and have pulled a couple of tricks on the audience but I really think they learned their lesson from the jacket collar incident. One other thing about Jason….If you remember in the early seasons he used to HATE admitting a place was haunted and would say the place had activity. Now, it does not take near the evidence that it once did for Jason to say a place is haunted. I appreciate you reading my rant session here. I could go on to several other issues but you get the idea. I would like to comment on Ghost Adventures as well but that would take hours to write just on the subject of Zak Fagans…..: )

  3. Sorry about Zak’s last name in my previous post…….It is Zak Bagans…Not Fagans…..Absolutely no intentional slam on Zak or anyone else….An honest mistake.

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