The United Kingdom might be more than 11,000 miles away from New Zealand, but it hasn’t stopped a number of British brewers using Maori images on their beers, which some campaigners say is inappropriate.

Brewers are being warned against using Maori images on labels and other marketing materials as they offensive, harmful and hurtful.

The problem has increased as New Zealand malt and hops are now widely sold worldwide and brewers choose to use Maori images of as part of their marketing.

“This creates offence,” says Maori cultural advisor Karaitiana Taiuru.

Guidance issued by Taiuru says the use of Maori, including images of people, and Maori culture, including images such as the ta moko (the traditional body tattoo), in beer sales and marketing causes offense to Maori. At best it is ill-informed, at worst it is racist.

There is a lot of “kiwi” imagery which will not result in offence or in cultural appropriation, says the guidance.

Last year, at least four British brewers and one in Belgium changed the branding of some of their beers following contact with Taiuru.

In the US, a Missouri brewery has apologised and removed artwork depicting Hindu deity Lord Genesha from one of its beers. In a statement, the brewery said it never intended to offend anyone and would remove the artwork from the Bombay Brown beer and its website.

Karaitiana Taiuru offers free initial advice on Maori branding and culture issues here: www.taiuru.maori.nz/contact/

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