Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso's clothing line has been accused of cashing in on Māori culture without having any tangible link to it.

Called Kimoa, the label has met a fierce backlash on social media with a barrage of comments on its Facebook page accusing it of being a "culture vulture" and "culture thief".

A recent Māori-inspired clothing line advertised garments with models wearing painted-on moko.

One female model also appeared to be performing a pūkana and whātero.


The advertisement now appears to have been pulled from the company's Facebook page but not before users had commented.

"Bastardising our Māori culture to make money is despicable and disrespectful!! Stop marketing this rubbish as Māori design and culture when clearly it is not," one Facebook user said on the company's page.

"This is trash!!!! Do your homework! Māori people are alive, hire an artist to collaborate with, pay for the art, don't steal," another commenter said.

‪☀️SPRING-SUMMER COLLECTION☀️‬ ‪WANAKA TEE‬ ‪Bicolor tee white and yellow with motif on the chest in blue and orange triangles on a yellow base, like the sleeves. Find it at ‬

Posted by kimoa on Sunday, 31 May 2020

Double F1 World Champ Alonso has worn the Kimoa logo on his helmet at the 2017 Indianapolis 500 and 2018 24 Hours of Daytona.

Kimoa also signed a 2017 deal with the McLaren F1 racing team to be its "official surfwear partner".

Kimoa has been approached directly for comment, but said in a statement reported by Te Ao Māori News its recent clothing line and modelling shoots were designed as a tribute to Māori culture.

"It was so inspiring for us and very meaningful when the name of the company was decided," the company said.

"Last year, our creative team did a trip to New Zealand, visiting Waiotapu, Rotorua, Waikite Valley, Tauranga Bay, Tasman Sea, Milford Sound ... So with all that inspiration, they have created this collection."


Te Ao Māori News also reported that television personality and singer and songwriter Te Hamua Nikora posted under Kimoa's website asking whether the company worked with any Māori people to design the clothes.

"What's with the terribly done tīwhana on the man's head? Moko kanohi are ONLY for Māori! And what even does "KIMOA" mean?"

Kimoa replied they had worked with print developers for the collection and branding directors for the name.

"Hopefully to work with some Māori artists for possible next collaborations."

Nikora recently started a Facebook page called "Our culture is not your paycheck" that aims to expose companies of appropriation of Māori culture.

It comes after a Christchurch art gallery this month pulled down controversial art after complaints.

Windsor Gallery removed pieces by artist Rhonye McIlroy, including a painting of a white woman with a moko kauae wearing bondage.

Ara Institute of Canterbury Māori liaison Atama Moa told Radio NZ said the piece was "shocking".

"The facial tāmoko is actually very tapu, it is very sacred to our Māori people, and when it gets exploited and sexualised and used in such a horrible derogatory way, it really hurts our Māori people."

"Every single line, every single curve on the face of our people means something - it could represent whānau, whakapapa, wherever you are from."

Brazilian companies selling corporate retreats where participants can learn haka were also slammed earlier in the year for "blatant cultural appropriation".