Photo: Mehdi Photos/Shutterstock

Air New Zealand’s Attempt to Trademark Indigenous Greeting Angers Māori People

News Airports + Flying Activism
by Eben Diskin Sep 12, 2019

Much like LeBron James’ recent pursuit to trademark the phrase “Taco Tuesday,” this attempted trademark isn’t going over so well. Air New Zealand is ruffling feathers by trying to trademark an image of the words “kia ora,” which is the name of its in-flight magazine and, more importantly, the Māori greeting for hello.

Although it’s only attempting to trademark “particular stylised forms” of the word, rather than the word itself, the Māori people believe the words belong to them and that any trademark attempt is akin to cultural appropriation. The Māori Council has even vowed to take the arline to court if it moved forward with the trademark, calling it “an insult to all Māori and New Zealanders.”

According to intellectual property rights expert Maui Solomon, the airline is going too far. “They’ve already appropriated the koru [fern] symbol for the airline many years ago […] They are overreaching.”

However, since the words are a common greeting between all New Zealanders, and are often used by a variety of government and private entities, the trademark is unlikely to be approved.

This week is Māori language week in New Zealand.

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