WORLD NEWS
09/14/2019 08:27 EDT

Air New Zealand Threatened With Boycott Over Plan To Trademark Logo Of Maori Phrase

"You don’t get to culturally misappropriate it for profit," said an angry member of the Maori Council in a video message.

New Zealand’s indigenous Maori community is threatening to boycott Air New Zealand because the company is attempting to trademark a logo of a Maori phrase. 

The phrase, “kia ora,” translates as “good health” or “be well.” It’s widely used in the nation to say hello, CNN notes. It’s also the name of Air New Zealand’s in-flight magazine.

Matthew Tukaki, an executive member of the the Maori Council, called the trademark an “absolute disgrace ” in a video posted on Facebook (see it above). “Maori is ours. You don’t get to culturally misappropriate it for profit; you certainly do not get to trademark” it, he said in an impassioned message.

“We’ve had it with you. We’ve had it with your stupid behavior,” Tukaki said.

He said if the airline didn’t drop its plan he would call for a national Maori boycott of the airline.

Air New Zealand said it only wants to trademark a logo of the phrase and not the phrase itself.

“We have great respect for the Maori language,” an airline spokesperson told Reuters in a statement.

“This is simply about protecting the logo,” she added. “The word ‘kia ora’ has been registered by a number of applicants to be used for a range of goods and services ― dating back to 1992 ― both in New Zealand and overseas.”

The airline last clashed with the Maori over tattoos. It finally lifted restrictions barring visible tattoos for its workers, according to Reuters, following accusations that the policy discriminated against Maori people, who sometimes have visible tattoos on their arms, legs and faces.