5 Aug 2020

Reo Māori expert urges seeking advice over names, brands

4:28 pm on 5 August 2020

A Wellington leather store's Māori name mishap has been described as easily avoidable.

Hemi Kelly

AUT lecturer Hēmi Kelly says some companies are incorporating te reo Māori correctly, while others failed to get guidance. Photo: Supplied

The store has named itself Huruhuru, thinking it was a translation of hair or wool, but it can also translate to pubic hair.

TV personality Te Hamua Nikora made that known in a Facebook video.

An AUT lecturer, Hēmi Kelly, told Midday Report some companies were incorporating te reo Māori properly, while others failed to get guidance.

After a quick search, he found language experts that could help.

"I just did a little Google search actually - I was like Māori language consultants - and there they are, they just pop up."

"I don't see why we should be having these issues," he said.

A spokesperson from the Wellington leather store said it cannot afford to simply change its name.

Aynur Karakoc said she and her husband picked the name as it was the Māori word for wool, feather, or fur.

She said they felt they had done everything right when naming their business, and meant no offence.

"We got the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand permission to use this name - we also got approval of the Māori committee... we wouldn't use this name or trademark if we hadn't been given the permission," she said.

Karakoc said the business was already struggling with the Covid-19 downturn.

She said they were now also receiving racial abuse and threats and the property office told them to go to the police.

"There will be other people and then every time we will report them to the police? This is not the solution," she said.

A Canadian brewery, Hell's Basement, has also come under fire on social media for naming their New Zealand Pale Ale, Huruhuru.

RNZ has approached them for comment.

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs