'Maori King' ale's name changes after protests

By Yvonne Tahana

Maori King beer. Photo / Supplied
Maori King beer. Photo / Supplied

The American makers of Maori King beer have been lauded for changing the name of their ale after an outcry last week.

Colorado brewery Funkwerks faced criticism from Kingitanga followers who said the branding, which featured a stylised facial moko on a brown bottle, was culturally offensive.

The Belgian-style beer will now be known as Southern Tropic.

Owner Gordon Schuck said that after receiving many emails and letters about the name, it was a simple decision to change because of the offence caused to Maori people.

"I want our brand to be known for making great beer. I don't want it to be know for creating controversy and stuff like that.

"We definitely listened to the people."

It was a complete turn around after the brand had reportedly offered to send King Tuheitia a crate and said the name couldn't be changed because of labelling regulations.

Public health advocate Shane Bradbrook, who forced an apology from tobacco giant Philip Morris for producing a "Maori Mix" line of cigarettes, said the result was a "victory for Maori standing up for their rights".

He praised the quick about-turn.

"For a small business to turn around and say 'we got this wrong,' good on them."

Facebook messages from New Zealanders left on the brewery's website were also congratulatory.

Tina Ngata said: "This means a LOT. Thankyou for changing the brand name."

Another said: "Thank you so much for making the right decision - you folk truly are far, far more ethical than so many other companies out there. Much love, kia ora!"

Ngati Raukawa's Chris McKenzie: "good work funkworks [sic], i'm surprised none of these maori have asked for a free sample yet. i don't mind being the first."

Mr Schuck said there were no plans to sell the beer in New Zealand.

Tainui tribal executive Tuku Morgan said he was surprised at the speed at which the company moved. The tribe was "over the moon" with the name change.

"This is about good sense prevailing over cultural ignorance."

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 19 Dec 2014 15:28:46 Processing Time: 602ms