A church group that used a doctored photo by a well-known photographer without his knowledge or consent has apologised.

The apology was made in person to Te Rawhitiroa Bosch, his uncle — who was the subject in the image — their whānau and community.

As reported by Te Ao Māori News, the Hope Project, a Christian charity group, published promotional booklets with an image of Patrick Mohi holding a taiaha and laying down a wero — but with his head digitally replaced with someone else’s.

Bosch called out the group for getting it wrong “on so many levels” with copyright and consent issues and also violating tikanga through the act of replacing his uncle’s head which, in Māori culture, is considered sacred.

“They clearly feel entitled to steal our taonga Māori,” he wrote at the time, “our tuakiri Māori, our very identity and appropriate it to their ends.”

The group contacted Bosch and issued a public apology for the offence, posted on the front page of their website.

On Wednesday, the Hope Project and representatives of other Christian faiths were welcomed onto Tarimano Marae, just outside of Rotorua, to make amends in person.

“I kōnei i kitea i whakakanohi rātou, me ngā hāhi maha, i tū kotahi, i whakaeke nei i runga i te marae me te tuku i tā rātou whakapāha, ā, ināianei māku e kī atu kua ea. Kua ea (Here they came in person, joined by many other churches, and together they came on to the marae and apologised. Now I can say the matter is settled. It’s done),” Bosch said.

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