12 Sep 2019

Air NZ trying to trademark Kia Ora logo 'overreaching'

12:27 pm on 12 September 2019

An intellectual property rights expert says Air New Zealand applying to trademark its 'Kia Ora' logo is overreaching and "would be offensive to many Māori".

Wellington Airport

Photo: RNZ / Rebekah Parsons-King

Air New Zealand has applied to trademark its 'Kia Ora' logo, which is used on the front of the airline's inflight Kia Ora magazine.

The New Zealand Māori Council called the application an "insult to New Zealanders" and said the airline should not be allowed to trademark Māori words.

Intellectual property rights expert Maui Solomon told Morning Report Air New Zealand "are overreaching themselves on this one".

"They've already appropriated the koru symbol for the airline many years ago".

He said it was one thing to be using kia ora in the inflight magazine, "which is a good thing but then to be claiming exclusive property rights over kia ora ... I think they are overreaching".

"I think it would be offensive to many Māori."

Mr Solomon said the language was a national treasure and no one should be claiming exclusive intellectual property rights over it.

"And if anyone is should be a Māori national body that does that, not a national airline."

If Air New Zealand were really serious about promoting te reo, he said, it should "go a step further" and "allocate a percentage of their annual profits to the development and promotion of te reo".

"As a national airline, they're seizing national icons that's going to help promote their brand ... there should be a benefit-sharing. The obvious way to do that is for Air New Zealand to stump up with a bit of cash."

But yesterday Air New Zealand said the magazine, Kia Ora, had been published since 2007. It had a brand refresh earlier in the year, after which the application to trade mark was made.

The airline said trademarking the logo was standard practice.

They said the company was proud to promote Māori language and that it is simply about "protecting the logo".