Outrage over Canadian 'Haka' energy drink using moko design

From Checkpoint, 5:27 pm on 8 May 2017

A group of New Zealanders in Canada is furious that an energy drink is being sold under the name Haka with branding similar to Māori moko design.

The drink, which has the slogan "unleash your inner warrior", uses the black and white design on its bottles, T-shirts and on the bikinis of what the company calls its "car-wash girls".

The expat group, Kia Ora Canada, has tried to get in touch with the company without success.

It asked the New Zealand High Commission to assist them, but it had not heard back from Haka's manufacturers either.

Kia Ora Canada member Matea said the issue came up when someone in the group walked past a convenience store and saw the drink, complete with tā moko featured on the can.

She tried to contact the company via Instagram but was blocked from its account, she said.

"I was absolutely shocked because I wasn't rude, I wasn't insulting, I thought that I reached out to them and just explained I was very offended.

"I live a long way away from home and I'm Māori, I'm a New Zealander, I'm a Kiwi, I have a lot of pride in that culture and to see this, I was genuinely offended."

She described it as a tiki-looking face, which was cartoonish, but very clearly Māori.

"But it's very unflattering, it's a huge insult. They've taken it and bastardised it."

Matea said she did not believe the slogan on the cans - "unleash your inner warrior" - was a mistake.

"They've clearly researched and found out about our culture and they have taken the Māori culture, the mana of our people, and just everything that we are very proud of, and they've marketed it to sell an energy drink."

The group also tried to call a phone number advertised by the brand. She said the calls went unanswered until two days ago.

"I said 'hello' and they hung up on me straight away. I called back, no one picked up again."

Checkpoint with John Campbell tried to contact the company for comment.