Former All Black Byron Kelleher offends with rugby-themed alehouse in France.

Former All Black Byron Kelleher has been slammed for cultural insensitivity over the launch of his new pub Haka Corner.

The 57-test star is preparing to open the sports bar in his home city of Toulouse, and there are also plans to extend to other French cities.

But Maori Party co-leader Te Ururoa Flavell and his predecessor Sir Pita Sharples have criticised its linking of the traditional Maori war cry with a booze outlet.

"This is blatant piggy-backing off Maori culture and is out of order," Flavell said.


"To make money from associating drinking alcohol with Maori people is completely unacceptable and shows no credibility or integrity.

"The social statistics around Maori and drinking are not good and this is not appropriate."

They have also hit out at an online haka challenge that is being promoted on Kelleher and Haka Corner's Facebook pages.

Among the video entries is one from TV sports journalist France Pierron, known as "hot legs".

In the video, Pierron is seen attempting a haka in front of a large poster of a bare-chested Kelleher advertising the challenge.

Kelleher has praised Pierron's efforts, tweeting on Thursday "well done" and adding her haka was "very impressive".

That video, plus others performing their versions, have been uploaded to the Haka Corner Facebook page.

A spokesperson for Haka Corner said the challenge was not related to the bar, but was a charity challenge. That is not referenced in most of the postings on its Facebook page.


Flavell said: "It is inappropriate. It is as bad as having topless waitresses."

Sir Pita described it as very disappointing. "Kelleher is not a Maori and should not really be doing this. It is an insult to our culture.

"A lot of the other All Blacks will not like it either because they respect the haka greatly. It is fair enough to cash in on the rugby, but not in this way."

A statement issued by Haka Corner last night said the sports bar was designed to let people discover a piece of New Zealand's rugby culture in France.

"French people are really respectful towards New Zealand roots, love haka and All Blacks spirit."

It said the haka challenge was not linked to the bar, but was to raise funds for "hospitalised" children.

"Byron Kelleher is helping children from all over the world to give them a chance in life," the spokesperson said. "It's a challenge for people from all over the world to show their dance [haka]."

The bar will feature memorabilia from Kelleher's playing career and will televise live games during the World Cup.

In a recent interview with French newspaper Midi Olympique Kelleher said: "I wanted to create a place where you would find all this rugby ambience inspired by the Maori culture and New Zealand pubs.

"There will be jerseys worn and signed by great players like Jonny Wilkinson and Brian O'Driscoll and there will be locker rooms where people can settle down for a drink."

Kelleher — who last year became engaged to French-Italian model Lilly de Vellis — added the bar would also be decorated with items offered by current All Blacks Richie McCaw, Dan Carter and Kieran Read.

It is not the first time Maori leaders have been upset by the culture being use to promote products.

In 2005, Maori politicians and health advocates were outraged that a tobacco company named a brand of cigarettes Maori Mix in Israel.

The box featured a Maori-inspired design and a map of New Zealand.

It was criticised particularly given the high smoking rate among Maori.

Major sports brand Nike also came under fire in 2011 when it produced a range of merchandise for the English rugby team ahead of the Rugby World Cup which featured Maori designs.