New Zealand media outlets have noted that NCT 127's title track "Simon Says", from their 1st repackaged album ''NCT #127 Regulate', used a Māori karakia (prayer) in the introduction portion of the song.
The Māori people are an indigenous population of New Zealand, and questions arose regarding the particular usage of this Māori karakia in the NCT 127 track.
One New Zealand researcher from Victoria University, an advocate for Māori property, gave her thoughts on the usage of the prayer in the new song with, "[The particular Māori karakia words used] are very empowering and affirmative, respectful words, so if this song is not carrying on that spirit... then they have used it inappropriately."
The researcher continued, "The Māori phrase is used as a coming together of people and to close a discussion, so the fact that it is used at the beginning of the song is telling. So that already gives you a sense that they haven't researched it... The problem is the difference between being inspired by culture and wanting to respect it, from just taking it. And using it in ways where they haven't actually researched whether the use is appropriate or inappropriate."
However, some New Zealanders feel that the song will promote the Māori culture to international listeners. Netizens commented, "I've never seen a Maori person unhappy about the use of the haka in a movie, no matter how ridiculous it looks. I'm from New Zealand, and although I'm not Maori, and I can guarantee that people won't be mad about it", "Hakas aren't something Maoris keep for themselves. The New Zealand rugby team traditionally does one at the start of their matches, and the players are not all Maori. It originated from Maori tradition sure, but it is part of New Zealand culture as a whole and not just something the minority cultivates", "For one of the biggest K-pop boy bands to be using haka sounds, is a great feeling", "It's really up to the people of the culture to decide at the end of the day to be offended though", and so on.
You can hear the Māori karakia phrase at the beginning of NCT 127's "Simon Says" in the group's latest MV above.