Aviation

Māori groups threaten to boycott Air New Zealand over ‘kia ora’ trademark

Ali Coulton

Ali Coulton

The Māori Council has threatened to boycott Air New Zealand over the airlines attempt to trademark the logo of its inflight magazine, Kia Ora.

Māori Council executive director Matthew Tukaki told TVNZ the airline’s “hairbrained scheme is an insult to all Māori and all New Zealanders during Māori language week.”

“Let’s be really clear here this is an insult pure and simple,” Tukaki said.

“[Christopher] Luxon [Air New Zealand CEO] and his massive fleet of PR and marketing cronies have come up with another hairbrained scheme from the never never similar to some of their safety videos – my suggestion is stick to your core business because you sure as hell don’t get to trademark Māori words.”

“If Luxon wants to continue this hoha then prepare for the day when we simply turn around and say – Māori, Māori organisations and iwi – boycott. Not one more Air NZ ticket. And on that point, I suggest the largest shareholder go and give this recalcitrant company a good telling off.”

Tukaki said he’s “sick and tired” of cultural appropriation and all Māori are.

The airline has told the media it applied to trademark the logo design on the front of its magazine, not the Māori greeting kia ora.

“It’s standard corporate practice to have all our logos trademarked and we have just started the process given Kia Ora has recently been through a refresh,” the airline told SBS.

Māori Council spokesman Brent Reihana told TV3 the organisation has rejected the airline’s argument and said the Maori words were an intrinsic part of the logo.

“The logo commercialises the words … we have no problem with them using the words but they should not be attempting to link trademarks to them, even if it is only a logo,” he said.

Rebecca James, Trade Marks Manager for the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand, told TVNZ the airline is just seeking protection of the “particular stylised forms”, adding there are currently 19 trademarks containing the words kia ora.

According to James, a trademark cannot be given in New Zealand unless it is approved by the Trade Marks Māori Advisory Committee to determine if the trademark is likely to offend Māori.

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