The chair of local iwi Ngā Tāngata Tiaki o Whanganui says the use of "Wanganui" on an overseas alcohol product is wrong.

Independent Scottish brewery Fallen Brewing has been releasing a run of beer entitled "Wanganui - Kiwi Pale Ale" alongside 12 other brews it offers.

The product is described as having "low bitterness, hopped with a huell melon and taiheke for a fruity, tropical flavour and finished with a kiwi addition for aromas of ripe kiwifruit".

Fallen Brewing founder Paul Fallen said the product got its name through that connection.


"We are using the Wanganui name for its association with kiwifruit, and being the first known area of propagation and cultivation in New Zealand."

The beer is currently not shown in the product range on the brewery's website, but is still getting regular reviews online.

"We were unaware until Tuesday that the spelling 'Whanganui' had such a strong association with Maori culture. I apologised for any offence caused by our lack of knowledge and understanding of the association."

Fallen said the company has been given permission to continue using the "Wanganui" name, but iwi chairman Gerrard Albert said that's not the case and that the iwi has received no direct communication from the brewery.

Gerrard Albert says the product name is wrong regardless of spelling. Photo / File
Gerrard Albert says the product name is wrong regardless of spelling. Photo / File

Albert said issues like this would result in much better situations if companies checked with communities and paid courtesy before releasing products with associated terms or imagery.

"I think the community should've been consulted on this, it's not exclusively ourselves.

"If it was an image of one of our tupuna, then just the iwi, but the name Whanganui whether it's got an 'h' or without, then the iwi would be engaged in an ideal process and the community as well."

It's a process Albert said should apply to all companies whether overseas, national or local.

"I think if I was in the same position just looking at a map and wanting to use some sort of exotic name from overseas to promote my product, then I would take the time to find out and engage with the people,

"And I think anybody reasonable would do that and that's what any reasonable people would expect."

Albert said legally there would be no issue with the company using the name "Whanganui" in regards to the Whanganui River's legal personality status, but that it would still be wrong.

"It not a legal issue, it's a moral one and if the community feels strongly enough about it, it should say no, you're from overseas and you don't have the right to take any of our names, imagery, or associated cultural elements to promote your products.

"It's not just an iwi issue, this is a community issue and the community frankly should make a stand because people do take liberties with things that are associated with us."

Albert said he's considering writing to the company to let them know the product name is unsuitable.

"Some will have the view that it's just a name and it's all right but certainly those that do feel they're opposed to this should write to the company and say it's not appropriate."

Fallen Brewing said it expects to discontinue the beer at the end of the UK summer.