Beer brewing company responds to label controversy

By Online News - Rereātea
  • Auckland

Auckland's Birkenhead Brewing Company has publically apologised for using Māori ancestors on their alcoholic beverages.

Images of Te Arawa ancestors Hinemoa and Tutanekai were used, leaving descendants, including one Mokoia Island trustee, disgusted.

Their apology states, "The Birkenhead Brewing Company is a small boutique brewing company, based in Birkenhead, Auckland. Our four beer brands are named after our local Kauri forest in our suburb and the three major streets that feed into the centre of our village.

Yesterday, without warning or any prior discussion, we were publicly criticised regarding the names and labels of two of our craft beers that are named after Birkenhead streets. We were also accused of being disrespectful to Maori culture. A death threat to the Birkenhead Brewing staff was taken seriously and is now a matter of Police investigation.

Prior to launching these beers, we consulted extensively with our local iwi in Birkenhead and several experts on Maori culture. We wanted to make sure that we were behaving in a manner that respected, honoured and celebrated our New Zealand heritage and culture.

We created our own imagery and ensured the stories were based on documented evidence that offered an explanation of what the names stood for. We wanted to ensure that respect was paid to the creators of those stories with full cultural recognition.

However, despite our best efforts, it is clear that some parties are unhappy with the use of the names Hinemoa and Mokoia.

As it was always our intention to honour and celebrate – not to be disrespectful, we are now discussing the matter with Paraone Pirika, the kaumatua and chairman of Owhata marae in Rotorua. The Owhata marae is where the ancestral houses of Tutanekai and Hinemoa sit with pride and mana.

We are sorry for any offence that has been caused. Through our discussions we will be looking at how we can change our labels so as to remove any potential for harm or dispute.

We will continue to keep you updated on the progress, which we expect to be swift."