The brewery that sparked controversy after it featured Maori ancestral legends on its labels has announced it is relaunching its beer with all references to the Maori story of Hinemoa and Tutanekai removed.

Birkenhead Brewery Company's references to Maori folklore in its Legend Series beer range backfired after descendants of Rotorua lovers Hinemoa and Tutanekai expressed disgust at the use.

The turn-around followed a meeting with Te Arawa kaumatua in Rotorua last week.

Brewery director and co-founder, Steve Simms, said the branding changes followed feedback that the use of the names Hinemoa and Mokoia was causing pain and upset for some Maori.

"Back in July, we promised to act swiftly to remove any references, branding and association between Te Arawa's ancestors and our products. It was never our intention to show any disrespect.


"Following our meeting last Friday at Te Owhata Marae with the people representing Te Arawa, we are both enlightened and relieved. We will now work together to assist in the protection of cultural intellectual property."

He said although they still had a lot to learn, they now better understood the importance and impact of Maori culture and heritage, especially with regard to Maori stories and taonga.

"We would like to pay particular respect to kaumatua from Te Arawa in Rotorua who, as the guardians of the Hinemoa and Tutanekai story, helped us to understand and appreciate the significance of their ancestors," said Simms.

Simms said the Birkenhead Brewing Company would give the original Hinemoa and Tutanekai artworks, without any branding, to the Te Arawa Koeke for their own copyright protection and use.

Te Arawa representative Paraone Pirika said the outcome of the meeting was positive.

"We of Owhata Marae and Te Arawa Koeke, the guardians of Te Arawa taonga, stories, genealogy and whenua, we thank you for meeting us on our turangawaewae; our marae, our place, our home. And for being open to listen and receive information that gave you a deeper understanding and appreciation of a cultural perspective and its importance, to not only us but to New Zealand Aotearoa, in that a taonga is not a treasure of monetary value but a treasure of the heart and the mind."

Simms said the Pacific Pale Ale and Pilsner brands are being re-labelled and are expected to be back on the shelves at retail outlets this week. All draft tap products have already been changed.