Air New Zealand faces backlash after seeking "Kia ora" trademark

By Tini Molyneux

Air New Zealand has come under fire from Māori MPs after revealing plans to seek a trademark on “Kia Ora”

They’ve slammed the proposition saying its an expression that belongs to everyone and releasing this during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori is insulting.

NZ First MP Shane Jones has accused Air New Zealand of going “a step too far.”

Jones told Te Ao, the national airline are “arrogating to themselves some superior property right for a very common and popular expression, “Kia ora.”

Peeni Henare didn’t mince his words either, “Kātahi te whakaaro pōrangi.”

The sentiment rippled throughout the Labour Party in response to the news.

Tamati Coffey mirroring his colleagues kupu, “it’s crazy its ludacris and they need to be called out on it.”

Meka Whaitiri says, “it is a kupu which belongs to Maori and it’s for everyone’s use.”

Kiri Tapu Allen went even further and questioned who advised the airline to propose the ideain the first place.

“My challenge to them is who is the kāhui you are going to? Who is the kāhui that say this is a good idea and if you don’t have that kāhui when you claim to promote and love our culture then you mustn’t love our guidance?”

The trademark application refers to the logo for the Air New Zealand Inflight magazine title, this is a standard corporate practice

The airline publication first went to print in 1966 and the name “Kia Ora” was adopted for the magazine in 2007.

Air New Zealand issued a statement in response to media queries;

“We have great respect for the Māori language and are hugely supportive of Māori Language Week. This is simply about protecting the logo. The word Kia Ora has been registered by a number of applicants to be used for a range of goods and services - dating back to 1992.”

However, many are now questioning this practice.

The Minister for Māori Development, Nanaia Mahuta says, “Mēnā he painga tērā mo te katoa ka pai. Engari mēnā mo te kaporaihana kotahi? He whakaaro ano taaku. Ki au nei koina te take e aro atu ana ahau ki ngā kaupapa o Wai 62.”

According to Kiri Tapu Allen, “Kia ora is part of our colloquial vernacular here in Aotearoa New Zealand, through the likes of many champions who pushed for our reo like Dame Nada Glavish made that term nearly infamous.”

Dame Naida Glavish has secured a place in history as a bold and brave champion of te reo when she chose to champion her language  at a time it was not in particularly high demand from national corporate bodies.

While working as a toll operator for New Zealand Post in 1984, Dame Naida Glavish and her use of the term “Kia ora” as a greeting for customers was met with reprimand and discrimination from her manager.

Despite this, she maintained her stance and continued greeting customers with “Kia Ora.”

Her bravery sparked a national debate which led to her becoming known and still often referred to as the “Kia ora lady.”

Te Ao reached out to Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand.

While they were not available for an on camera interview they did outline they have a Māori Advisory Group they consult with on these matters.