Outrage as Air New Zealand attempts to trademark a traditional Maori greeting ‘Kia Ora’

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‘What a bloody cheek’: Outrage as Air New Zealand attempts to trademark a traditional Maori greeting

  • Airline submitted an application to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office 
  • Air New Zealand is looking to trademark traditional Maori greeting ‘Kia Ora’
  • A spokeswoman said it is standard for them to trademark the company’s logos
  • The attempt has been met with outrage online saying it’s out-of-line

Air New Zealand has been met with outrage as it attempts to trademark a traditional Maori greeting. 

The airline submitted an application to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office in May, looking to trademark Kia Ora, the name used for their in-flight magazine. 

The phrase loosely translates as ‘best wishes’ or ‘good luck’ and is commonly used as an informal greeting roughly equivalent to ‘hello’ or ‘thank you’.  

An Air New Zealand spokeswoman said it is standard to trademark all the company’s logos. 

‘Our in-flight magazine is one of the first things our customers see when they get onto one of our domestic flights and we are proud to promote the Maori language,’ she told Stuff

‘Kia ora is also well known as our greeting on our flights and is also the first thing our customers see on our IFE (in-flight entertainment).’

The airline submitted an application to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office in May, looking to trademark Kia Ora

The airline submitted an application to the New Zealand Intellectual Property Office in May, looking to trademark Kia Ora

‘We have great respect for the Maori language and hugely supportive of Maori Language Week which is why we announced yesterday we are rolling out te reo (the Maori language) as a language option on our kiosks and IFE.

‘This is simply about protecting the logo.’

However, the application has been met with outrage online with people stating that the move is an act of theft. 

‘No Air New Zealand should not be trading marking ”Kia ora” that’s cultural appropriation, stealing our language, colonisation in practice and in Te Wiki O Te Reo Maori. Damn what a bloody cheek. Thieves,’ someone wrote.  

‘Yo @FlyAirNZ you’re doing Māori Language Week wrong,’ one person wrote.

‘Heard through the grapevine that @FlyAirNZ Air New Zealand are trademarking Kia Ora which is f**king rotten imo,’ another wrote.  

The airline’s Twitter account responded to a tweet and reiterated that they are only looking to trademark the logo design. 

‘This relates to the trademark for the logo design on the front of our inflight Kia Ora magazine (not the greeting kia ora),’ Air New Zealand responded. 

'This relates to the trademark for the logo design on the front of our inflight Kia Ora magazine (not the greeting kia ora),' the airline posted in response to online criticism (pictured in-flight magazine)

‘This relates to the trademark for the logo design on the front of our inflight Kia Ora magazine (not the greeting kia ora),’ the airline posted in response to online criticism (pictured in-flight magazine)

University of Auckland department of commercial law associate professor Alex Sims said trademarking the logo was probably not the ‘wisest PR move’. 

‘People need to be really careful about registering anything regarding Māori words,’ she told NZ Herald

‘There is far more recognition for Māori culture now than there was back in the day – I don’t know if this was the wisest PR move.’ 

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Air New Zealand for comment.      

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