An American brewery bottling a "Maori King" branded ale has upset Kingitanga followers and led a public health advocate to call for it to be withdrawn from sale.

Colorado microbrewery Funkwerks sells the 750ml bottles for US$10 ($12) each. The brown bottles display a stylised facial moko with "Maori King" laid over the image.

Company spokeswoman Jean Parker-Renga said she came up with the ale's name, which pays homage to the New Zealand origin of Rakau hops used in the beer.

"We wouldn't want to offend anyone ..."


Asked if she knew the Maori king's name - Tuheitia, Mrs Parker-Renga said she did not.

In the short term there would be no name change because labelling had to be approved by regulators.

But public health advocate Shane Bradbrook believes the beer should not be sold.

In 2006 he forced an apology and backdown from tobacco giant Philip Morris for producing a "Maori Mix" line of cigarettes.

"Essentially, it's about exploitation and in terms of our Maori king, in effect it's misappropriating his mana."

Placing moko on a beer bottle was also "culturally inappropriate".

Mr Bradbrook wanted it withdrawn from sale.

Tainui executive chairman Tuku Morgan said he was deeply offended and would be contacting Funkwerks to establish a "dialogue".


Another Kingitanga follower who heads a social service provider for Tainui people, Hori Awa, said he was disgusted with the product.