A Canadian brewery has apologised for its craft ale launched last July 2018 after learning its brand name is the Maori word for pubic hair. Hell's Basement Brewery, located in Alberta, was only made aware of the meaning of its New Zealand pale ale Huruhuru this month by Maori TV personality Te Hamura Nikora.
Nikora called out the brewing company on a Facebook video pointing out the common usage of the word 'huruhuru' in Maori tongue meant pubic hair. The brewery, which is headquartered in Medicine Hat, had started marketing Huruhuru craft ale while promoting that the beverage is supposedly brewed with hops from New Zealand. They said they chose the brand name fully understanding that it meant "feather" or "fur."
In his Facebook post, Nikora however said that the word "huruhuru" is also commonly used for an entirely different meaning by the Kiwi indigenous community.
"Yes I know huruhuru means feather, fur and even hair on the head, I know this. But it is most commonly used as hair from a person's privates.'" he wrote.
Co-founder of Hell's Basement, Mike Patriquin said he was under the impression the word meant feather and had no idea that it also pertains to pubic hair. The beer brewer expressed regrets for not consulting a Maori first about the word instead of relying on an online dictionary to pick their brand name.
'We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future. We wish to make especially clear that it was not our intent to infringe upon, appropriate, or offend the Māori culture or people in any way; to those who feel disrespected, we apologise." Patriquin said.
He added that the brewery would reconsider re-branding the said furry Pale Ale.
Incidentally, a leather shop on Cuba Street, Wellington also received backlash for naming their shop Huruhuru Authentic Leather. The shop is owned by a Turkish immigrant couple who thought the term was the literal translation for wool, as they initially planned to market New Zealand wool products.
The shop owner, Ercan Karakoch, who emigrated from Turkey in 2018, also said they had sought approval from the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand prior to setting up business. They had taken down the shop's Facebook page after receiving "humiliating and insulting" comments online, adding that they felt let down by IPONZ.
Nikora was quick to address the issue on cultural appropriation regarding the use of the controversial term in a video post on Facebook :
"If you're selling feathers then call your place feathers. If you're selling leathers then call it leathers. Don't call your place pubic hairs unless you're selling pubic hairs. And then your beer, don't call it pubic hairs unless you make it out of pubic hairs."