TV hit ... one of The GC's stars. Image: YouTube
THEY'RE called Mozzies, they talk about bedding aunties, they wear stockings to cover up their tattoos to get into Surfers Paradise nightclubs and they're causing outrage on both sides of the Tasman.
The New Zealand broadcaster TV3 gave a show called The GC its debut on Wednesday. It purports to document the lives of Maori Australians - or Mozzies - living on the Gold Coast. But it's been slammed as a trashy reality show more akin to Jersey Shore that does no favours for Maori culture or the Gold Coast.
''This show portrays all Maori who live on GC to be like these fake asses! Why don't you film the real Maori men who have moved here to make a better life and future for their families not jersey shore wanna bees who want to party?'' was one of the hundreds of critical comments posted on TV3's Facebook page.
What is particularly galling for many Kiwis is that the government agency NZ On Air granted taxpayer funding to the program last year on the basis that it would portray ''emigration from a Maori perspective''.
But the show ''follows the lives of a group of talented and attractive young Maori as they work hard and play even harder in Australia's favourite playground, the glittering Gold Coast'', according to the publicity blurb.
The men on The GC - all from New Zealand - work in construction or personal training and dabble in property, while the girls - all Australians - are aspiring models or performers.
The chief executive of Gold Coast Tourism, Martin Winter, is dismayed the show plays up the region's tacky sex, drugs and violence reputation, which it is fighting to shed before hosting the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
Mr Winter said the show focused on ''one small segment'' of New Zealanders who moved to the area and ''a particular kind of lifestyle which is less mainstream''.
''For The GC series to have a broader positive effect on the city, it needs to successfully show the larger qualities of life in the region and avoid the cliched Jersey Shore format.'' he said.
The co-leader of the Maori Party in New Zealand, Pita Sharples, said the show did not depict the reality of life for the increasing number of Maoris who moved to Australia for better employment prospects.
''Every Maori isn't like that,'' Dr Sharples said, referring to the rich young types living it up in skimpy outfits on The GC. ''We're hard working, we're quite reserved physically about ourselves … many are struggling, even in Australia.''
But he could see the program's point that ''it's a portrayal of Maoris as successful people, as opposed to Once Were Warriors, where they were being disadvantaged in every way''.
The GC was TV3's top-rating show the night of its debut. Dr Sharples predicts ''the next episode will be watched by the whole country''.
The incoming mayor of the Gold Coast, Tom Tate, said the council's job was to turn the publicity to the area's advantage. ''We need to put a bright light on that and harness the young market in New Zealand.''