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Air NZ calls for more kōrero on te reo trademark issues

Media release

18 September 2019

Air New Zealand calls for more kōrero on te reo trademark issues

Air New Zealand will not actively pursue its trademark application for the Kia Ora magazine logo after consultation with Māori leaders.

Chief Executive Officer Christopher Luxon says that after consultation with iwi leaders around New Zealand, and intellectual property law experts, it has become clear that the Government needs to undertake an urgent review of the rules governing the trademarking of words and phrases from the Māori language.

“While Air New Zealand had set out to trademark just the Kia Ora magazine logo rather than the words themselves, we have inadvertently sparked a much-needed discussion between Māori, intellectual property law experts and Government. The current trademark situation does not reflect the sometimes differing and legitimate views of both the Māori and legal communities,” Mr Luxon says.

Air New Zealand filed its trademark application for the Kia Ora magazine logo after a New Zealand multimedia organisation used the Kia Ora name on a digital magazine.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu chief executive officer Arihia Bennett commended Air New Zealand for seeking the views of Māori leaders on the trademark issue.

“Air New Zealand has shown that the trademark issue needs to be high on the Government’s agenda. Ngāi Tahu, along with many other iwi, also face challenges navigating the trademark law. We support Air New Zealand’s call for the Government to take urgent action to find a pathway that meets the needs of Māori and business, and gives effect to the findings of the Waitangi Tribunal Report on the Wai 262 claim ‘Ko Aotearoa Tēnēi’,” she says.

Pania Tyson-Nathan chief executive of New Zealand Māori Tourism says Air New Zealand’s decision to not actively pursue the Kia Ora magazine logo trademark shows strong corporate leadership.

“Our national airline has done more than any large company to support the growth and awareness of Māori language and culture in Aotearoa and around the world.

“The fact that it listened to the voices of respected Māori leaders in order to better understand well-expressed concerns over the trademark logo issue speaks volumes to the character of the airline.

“We fully agree with it that Government must step up and put in place better laws and processes that recognise the needs of Māori and commercial entities when dealing with the native language of our nation,” says Tyson-Nathan.

Principal at law firm A J Park and Co-chair of the International Indigenous Rights Initiatives and Policy Analysis sub-committee for the International Trade Mark Association Lynell Tuffery Huria says it is time for New Zealand society to step up, have courage, lead the world, and establish a new and innovative framework that appropriately recognises the nation’s cultural heritage and ensures its integrity is preserved.

“Māori have been seeking recognition and protection of our cultural heritage, including Māori culture, Mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge), Māori kupu (words) and Māori iconography for some time through the filing of the WAI 262 claim, the signing of the Mataatua Declaration, the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), and at the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO).

“Our cultural heritage is unique to Aotearoa, and this heritage is being eroded through misuse and misappropriate not only in Aotearoa but around the world. For a long time, Māori, and indigenous peoples around the world who face the same issues, have been alone on this journey. Māori cannot do this alone,” she says.

“For this reason, it is great to see an organisation, such as Air New Zealand, not only reconsidering the merits of its trademark application, but also join the kōrero, speak out and support the need for a new framework. It will take collective appreciation, recognition, and effort from us all to ensure our wonderful and unique cultural heritage is protected for future generations.”

Ends

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