It’s a hairy mistake.
A beer brand and a leather company have found themselves in the crosshairs of New Zealanders after accidentally naming a product and a business “pubic hair” in their native tongue.
Both the Canadian brewery Hell’s Basement, as well as a New Zealand leather company in Wellington use the word “huruhuru” in the island’s indigenous language te reo Māori. When translated to English, the word means pubes.
“Some people call it appreciation; I call it appropriation,” said TV personality and te reo Māori advocate, TeHamua Nikora, in a Facebook video posted Aug. 3. “If you are selling leather, call it leather. Don’t call it pubic hair unless you are selling pubic hair, and don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair.”
Hell’s Basement called their New Zealand pale ale “Huruhuru,” while the leather crafter named its store after the intimate word thinking it actually meant “feather.”
Nikora contacted both stores to break the unfortunate news and asked them to stick to their own language while trying to promote their products.
“You fellas need to know when the Māori look at the name of your store, they’re not going to see feather . . . They’re going to see pubes,” Nikora said in the video after confronting the leather store owner, Aynur Karakoc. “And no Māori is going to go into your store and buy pubes. Why buy pubes when you can get your own pubes for free?”
He added, “ ’Huruhuru’ do you think you are?”
The co-founder of the suds outfit, Mike Patriquin, also later admitted that he thought the word actually meant “feather.”
“We did not realize the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation and, given the response, we will attempt to do better in the future,” Patriquin told Radio New Zealand. “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 apologize.”
The owner added that despite the booboo, pubic hair isn’t a bad thing.
“We also do not think pubic hair is shameful, though we admit it may not go well with beer. We are all human after all,” he said.
Karakoc said she and her husband went through all the proper protocols before naming the leather store.
“We got the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand permission to use this name — we also got approval of the Māori committee,” she told RNZ. “We wouldn’t use this name or trademark if we hadn’t been given the permission.”
She admitted they have received racial threats and abuse since the mistake came to light, but they can’t afford to change the name now.
Patriquin, on the other hand, said they would consider rebranding their brew.
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