A Wellington business is being mocked online after using the te reo word for pubic hair for its name, with the owners being urged to use their "own language".

Huruhuru Authentic Leather on Cuba St say that they originally chose the name because they felt the literal translation of huruhuru , wool, fit their initial plan to market New Zealand wool products.

Through a translator, business owner Ercan Karakoch, who emigrated from Turkey in 2018, told the Herald that the business has taken down its Facebook page after the backlash to their name put them in a "very bad situation" with the business receiving "humiliating" and "insulting" comments online.

When they chose the name, the business had sought the approval, through the Intellectual Property Office (IPONZ), of a Māori advisory committee.

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Karakoch said he felt let down by IPONZ.

He said that the store remained open and they had no plans to change the name, which he did not regret choosing.

He said that after he spotted a gap in the market and refocused to instead market New Zealand leather products he still wanted a name that reflected the product's origins and felt that Huruhuru, which is also translated and 'feather' and 'hair' would be suitable.

"We trusted the Māori officials and IPONZ. We have done everything legally. This is not a banana republic. There are rules and we followed the rules."

"Nobody wants to invest money into a business to get harassed and insulted."

The Huruhuru store in Wellington. Photo / Supplied
The Huruhuru store in Wellington. Photo / Supplied

In response to enquiries from the Herald, a spokesperson from the Ministry of Business, Innovation & Employment said that every IPONZ trade mark application that contains a word or words in Te Reo Māori goes to their Māori Advisory Committee.

"In this instance, the applicant had applied to register a logo comprising the word huruhuru and an image of a sheep as a trade mark in relation to goods and services such as clothing, carpets, retail of dairy products, luggage, and business cards," they said.

"Taking into account the trade mark in its entirely (including the image of a sheep) and the goods and services in relation to which the trade mark was to be used, the Committee did not consider the trade mark was likely to offend Māori," they added.

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The spokesperson advised business owners wanting to use Te Reo or other elements of Te Ao Māori to consider consulting with Māori language and/or design experts.

They said more information on examination of Māori trade marks by IPONZ is available on their website.

Karakoch said that he and his wife had stuck close to the store over the weekend, concerned for the safety of their young female employee after critics online said they would be coming to the store to voice their displeasure.

He compared the use of the word to another which has a double meaning in New Zealand – bush.

"We know what bush means, like a forest, but also bush means pubic hair."

He also queried why the business was grilled online over using a name for wool or feathers when it sold leather, raising a global tech giant as evidence that business names need not be literal.

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"Apple doesn't sell apples, Apple sells technology," he said.

In a video posted to Facebook, broadcaster Te Hamua Nikora admitted he had been "getting smart" to the business on social media.

The video was a light-hearted but passionate critique of the decision to name the business Huruhuru and did not contain any threats.

"When the Māori see the name of your store, they're not going to see feather, they're not going to see soft leather, they're going to see... pubes," Nikora said.

"That's what they're going to see, pubes. And no Māori is going to go in your store and buy pubes."

Nikora said that 'feather' was not the translation which would spring to mind for most Māori.
Nikora said that 'feather' was not the translation which would spring to mind for most Māori.

"Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation," Nikora said.

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"They heard Māori are the coolest people on earth and they're right about that - and then they want a piece of that," he added.

"So they just help themselves, it's that entitlement disease they've got."

"Use your fella's own language," Nikora argued.

"If you're selling feathers then call your place feathers, if you're selling leathers then call it leathers.

"Don't call it pubic hairs - unless you're selling pubic hairs."