Fonterra under fire from iwi over name of its Kapiti-brand cheese, Tuteremoana

Lower North Island iwi are insulted that a cheese made by Fonterra shares a name with their ancestor Tuteremoana.

Fonterra Māori strategy general manager Tiaki Hunia said in a statement that the award-winning cheddar was named after the summit of Kāpiti Island.

The summit was named in honour of Tuteremoana, a highly-regarded chief for the area, and that's why some are deeply offended.

In an email, a spokesperson for Fonterra said it’s not known whether iwi were consulted before the cheese hit the market 10 years ago.

"It's not just a piece of cheese to us, that name is of a huge significant importance to us, our people here in Muaūpoko," Muaūpoko Tribal Authority board member Tim Tukapua said.

Mr Tukapua said putting their ancestor’s name on a cheese label, and then consuming the product, is disrespectful to the iwi's "way of looking and viewing at the world".

“Finding out about it this way, I mean it just shows you how far we have come and how far we have to go even further," he said.

Ms Tukapua said he wants Fonterra to consider the iwi's view and rename the cheese.

"I don’t agree that they do that without even having the decency to come and ask and consult with us that these are things that they want to do," he said.

Mr Hunia said Fonterra wants to be respectful and will now review all brands that use te reo.

"Fonterra's Māori Strategy team will work internally with our brands teams to ensure we’re using te reo appropriately, and then with iwi to make sure we are respectful and undertake proper consultation," he said in a statement.

Rangitāne O Wairarapa cultural advisor Mike Kawana said the issue for his iwi is not being given an opportunity to share their views with companies before their ancestral names and stories are used commercially.

"Why do you want to name your cheese after that name, after our tupuna ... it wouldn’t have taken much to look into where the name had come from," he said.

Mr Kawana welcomed the review from Fonterra, saying there are many te reo names being used by other companies on the market too.

"My plea to a lot of those companies is do the consultation first, sit down with the people first - if you see a Māori name you like and want to use on a product then find out where that name comes from, find out a little bit about it at least and do some talking."

Trade Marks Māori Advisory Committee advisor Karaitiana Taiuru labelled the move as another example of appropriation of the Māori culture.

"It's offensive and it’s just typical of New Zealand businesses who’ve become accustomed to culturally appropriating Māori knowledge and Māori imagery," he said.

He said Fonterra needs to be more culturally aware and has the resources to implement changes.

Mr Taiuru said the inappropriate use of Māori culture has become "so normalised" that people don’t question product marketing decisions.

Your playlist will load after this ad

Descendants of the Māori chief are calling for it to be renamed, saying it’s an insult. Source: 1 NEWS