The Brussels Beer Project in Belgium has apologised for any offence caused by their ‘Māori Tears’ beer, which claims to “encapsulate those tears to capture their sacred nature”.
A spokesperson from the brewery said that the word ‘tears’ was intended to highlight the subtlety fo the pale ale, which was brewed with New Zealand-grown hops.
“It was brewed one-time in 2015 in 800 bottles. There was no intention to offend the Māori culture, on the contrary. We are sad to have provoked such feelings,” it said.
The beer was widely criticised by Māori experts, who argued that if a New Zealand company were to name a beer the same, the name would breach the ‘sacredness rule’ in applying for a trademark.
“Intellectual property rights help ensure that Māori culture and traditional knowledge is recognised and respected,” said Auckland University of Technology Professor Pare Keiha. “It also gives rights to benefit commercially while preventing exploitation or inappropriate use.”
“Specific reference is made to those things which are tapu and those things which are noa. All foods are noa or profane. In this instance, beer is an alcoholic beverage and would be regarded by a reasonable Māori as being noa.”