Brewers encouraged to consider cultural sensitivities

As Waitangi Day approaches, representatives from the New Zealand beer community last week sent out a message advising the beer industry and its followers to be aware of cultural appropriation in Australia.

The message comes after several breweries in the UK and New Zealand released beers with culturally insensitive and offensive depictions of, and slogans pertaining to Māoris.

Beer writer Denise Garland last year wrote an article for SOBA publication Pursuit of Hoppiness. Re-published in kiwi online media brand The Spinoff, Garland has a firm message for brewers everywhere.

As Kiwi ingredients become increasingly popular with markets overseas, Garland writes that “some of the beers being produced have crossed the line”.

While many of the breweries cited in her article reportedly apologised and pulled the offending designs, Garland highlights that there is cultural ignorance within the industry.

Māori cultural adviser Karaitiana Taiuru has also spoken out, explaining to New Zealand’s island friends that Tā Moko is sacred in Māori culture.

“It is specific to an individual and is a graphical representation of a person’s genealogy and life’s achievements,” Taiuru said.

“Having the Tā Moko on a beverage or in association with alcohol and its promotion, is being disrespectful to the person’s whole genealogy and also to Māori culture.

“It is also offensive to Māori to have Tā Moko or any aspect of the head associated with food and beverages, more so when associated with alcohol.”

New Zealand-based educator and certified Cicerone Stephanie Coutts says that by learning about the diversity of the cultures and communities in New Zealand and around the world, it will be easier to make simple changes to the way individuals and businesses include them.

“It’s not about being PC or a snowflake, it’s about being a human being that shows respect to all others,” Coutts said.

Waitangi Day is the national day of New Zealand, and commemorates the signing of the Treaty of Waitangion February 6, 1840.

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