Hinemoa Beer leaves bad taste with Mokoia trustee

By Harata Brown
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

A Mokoia Island Trustee and descendant of Tutanekai and Hinemoa is disgusted by the use of the depictions of his ancestors on alcoholic beverages produced by an Auckland-based brewing company.

This is a Hinemoa Pacific Pale Ale. Her legendary lover Tutanekai is depicted on the Mokoia Pilsner beverage.

Mokoia Island Trustee Rawiri Bhana says, “Just to see their depiction of what my tupuna look like on an alcoholic beverage when alcohol is such an issue for Maori and our communities as a whole, it really hurt me, hugely.”

Mr Bhana is also a trustee of Te Roro o Te Rangi Hapū Trust. Both trusts are closely affiliated to Te Arawa ancestors Hinemoa and Tutanekai.

“So I actually found out about it last night through a whanaunga of mine Tania Tapsell Bennett, who is a Rotorua District Councillor. She let me know about it because she knows I am a Trustee of Mokoia Island. I can tell you, I can't actually repeat what I said. I was really, really angry inside.“

According to the Birkenhead Brewing Company's website, the company who produces the Legend Series of Beer, the idea of Hinemoa Pacific Pale Ale stems from Birkenhead's oldest street Hinemoa Street. The site also claims they have paid respect to the magnificent legendary Māori lovers, Hinemoa and Tutanekai, a real New Zealand Romeo and Juliet story.

"What's next? It could be Tamatekapua Cigarettes. It could be selling heaps of other things. Just for those companies out there, especially companies of Aotearoa. Consultation, it doesn't take much to pick up a phone."

A spokesman for Birkenhead Brewing Company says they can't comment on the issue as they have laid a complaint with police over physical threats they've received over the matter.  Meanwhile, Mr Bhana says he wants to touch base with the brewing company.

“We want to at first, have dialogue with the Birkenhead Brewing Company and have some korero with them. Like: 'Why are they using it, who did they have discussions with? We are not 100 percent sure if they have to anybody or not within Te Arawa or elsewhere.”

The Mokoia Island Trust is set to meet this Saturday and Mr Bhana says the need to file a formal complaint over the matter is on the agenda.

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