First Māori King image used as beer label

updated By Regan Paranihi

A made-up image of the first Māori King, Potatau Te Wherowhero, on a Canadian beer label has surfaced on the internet and caused outrage within the Māori community.

While this is not the first time prominent Māori figures or Māori culture have been used on beer labels, the Canadian bar Ras L'Bock says their intention was never to offend anyone. However, Rahui Papa (Ngāti Koroki Kahukura, Waikato) says it is an outrageous move.

"It's something that has been made up and it's something foolish to add his name to a face on a beer bottle."

He also says this would never have happened if the company consulted with Māori.

"If they had consulted their idea with Māori first before they used it, they would have understood why they should not use it and this would never have happened."

However, the Canadian bar is very apologetic for the offence they have caused.

In a statement, a spokesperson from Ras L'Bock says, "The goal was in no way to ridicule the Māori culture. Since the beer was made in New Zealand we wanted to feature a prominent historical Māori character from the Māori culture."

They now know their error needs to be corrected.

"We are going to remove the seasonal beer from our catalogue - know that our intentions were not to offend you, we were clumsy and we apologise."

Papa acknowledges the actions the company are taking to correct what they have done, but also encourages Māori to seek full legal ownership of our identity and culture.

"Māori should discuss making our words and our culture illegal for other countries to trademark so that this situation doesn't happen, as well as allow non-Māori to share it out to other countries."

Ras L'Bock will be removing the product and any reference to it on all their platforms.