An international brewery criticised for naming its beer "Māori Tears" has apologised to anyone it offended by the label.

The "Māori Tears" beer, owned by the Brussels Beer Project in Belgium, claims to "encapsulate those tears to capture their sacred nature".

A spokesperson for the Brussels Beer Project said the term "tears" was used to highlight the subtlety of the pale ale brewed with New-Zealand hops aged in barrels.

Yesterday the Herald ran a story where several Māori experts said the beer was spiritually offensive and treated Māori culture and traditional knowledge with irreverence or disrespect.

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Brussels Beer Project later apologised to "those who felt offended with our Māori Tears beer".

"It was brewed one-time in 2015 in 800 bottles. There was no intention to offend the Māori culture, on the contrary. We are sad to have provoked such feelings," it said.

Māori rights advocate Karaitiana Taiuru said yesterday that the beer would breach the sacredness rule in New Zealand if applying for a trademark.

"What are Māori tears? Does it symbolise that the brewer takes pride in thinking of Māori who are crying or perhaps stereotyping that Māori are sad and drink to be happy?"

Māori rights advocate Karaitiana Taiuru said the beer was another classic example of a brewery that is causing offence. Photo / Brussels Beer Project website
Māori rights advocate Karaitiana Taiuru said the beer was another classic example of a brewery that is causing offence. Photo / Brussels Beer Project website

He said although the company spelt the word Māori orthographically correct, they should have sought advice on the name.

Auckland University of Technology Professor Pare Keiha said whether the term Māori Tears is considered tapu is a matter of opinion.

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"Intellectual property rights help ensure that Māori culture and traditional knowledge is recognised and respected. It also gives rights to benefit commercially while preventing exploitation or inappropriate use," he said.

"Specific reference is made to those things which are tapu and those things which are noa. All foods are noa or profane.

"In this instance, beer is an alcoholic beverage and would be regarded by a reasonable Māori as being noa."

Labour MP Tamati Coffey said he felt the name was chosen "in poor taste".

"It is not a beer I will be reaching for anytime soon."