References to the Maori legend of Hinemoa and Tutanekai have been removed by an Auckland brewing company after learning that the use of the names has caused pain and upset for Maori.
Birkenhead Brewing Company is relaunching its Pale Ale and Pilsner brands as part of its new ‘The Village Series’ to remove any references, branding and association between its products and Te Arawa’s ancestors. Company director and co-founder Steve Simms says it was never his intention to show any disrespect to the wellknown legend.
“While we still have a lot to learn, we now better understand the importance and impact of Maori culture and heritage, especially with regard to Maori stories and taonga (treasures),” Simms says. “We would like to pay particular respect to kaumatua from Te Arawa in Rotorua, who, as the guardians of the Hinemoa and Tutanekai story, helped us to understand and appreciate the significance of their ancestors.”
Last month the company met at Te Owhata Marae with Te Arawa representatives, after being publicly criticised for naming its four beer brands after three major local streets and a Kauri forest. A subsequent death threat to the brewing staff was taken seriously and referred to police.
“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,” Simms says.
“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 were unhappy with the use of the names Hinemoa and Mokoia. It was always our intention to honour and celebrate – not to be disrespectful.”
Simms says he is now enlightened and relieved. “We will now work together to assist in the protection of cultural intellectual property,” he says. The Birkenhead Brewing Company will gift the original Hinemoa and Tutanekai artworks – without any branding – to Te Arawa Koeke for their own copyright protection and use.
Te Arawa representative Paraone Pirika said the meeting has delivered a positive outcome. “We of Owhata marae and Te Arawa Koeke, the guardians of Te Arawa Taonga, stories, genealogy and whenua thank (Birkenhead Brewing) for meeting us on our turangawaewae; our marae, our place, our home, and for being open to listen and receive information that gave a deeper understanding and appreciation of a cultural perspective and its importance, to not only us but to New Zealand Aotearoa, in that a taonga is not a treasure of monetary value but a treasure of the heart and the mind.”
Simms said the Pacific Pale Ale and Pilsner brands are currently being re-labelled and are expected to be back on the shelves shortly. All draft tap products have already been changed.