Meat company pulls 'culturally unsound' ad showing Te Mata Peak as a rack of lamb

Hastings-based Meat company Ovation has pulled an advertisement for lamb, depicting Te Mata Peak in Hawke's Bay as a rack of lamb, following complaints from local Māori.

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The advert depicted the sacred geographical feature as a rack of lamb. Source: 1 NEWS

It's a new controversy over the mountain which has been at the centre of a storm over a walking track built on it.

Ovation describes the ad as a "lambscape". It shows lamb ribs jutting from the top of Te Mata Peak.

Ngāti Kahungunu Elder Rose Mohi told 1 NEWS she felt sick when she saw the ad.

"Insensitive, culturally unsound and I felt quite hot under the collar. I felt sick in my stomach," she said. 

The landmark is sacred to local Māori, with many ancestors buried at the site. 

"We call that wāhi tapu. It's a special place for us. We don't mix food and tapu objects together," Ms Mohi said.

Ovation exports and has an office in Britain.

They don't have an understanding of the cultural perspective - JB Heperi-Smith, Ngāti Kahungunu spokesman

It's not the first time the company has turned a mountain into a piece of meat in an advertisement.

But the Te Mata Peak image has angered more than one iwi.

"When you put a commodity on top of something that's an indication that they don't have an understanding of the cultural perspective," JB Heperi-Smith, Ngāti Kahungunu spokesman said. 

The ad has been in a prime position overlooking the baggage carousel at Hawke's Bay Airport which 60,000 passengers pass through every month.

"It sends the wrong message totally. Try putting that on Stone Henge or anything, a war memorial, you wouldn't put it on there," Ms Mohi said. 

Te Mata Peak was at the heart of a storm last year when winery Craggy Range built a walking track on the eastern face with resource consent. 

Local iwi hadn't been consulted and the track is now due to be removed.

"For this to happen, it feels like we've just taken a hundred steps back again," Mr Heperi-Smith said. 

Hastings District Councillor Bayden Barber says companies need to talk with their local communities before signing off on marketing plans.

"It would be hard to miss a lot of the stuff that has gone down with Te Mata over the past 12 months. So I just think that companies need to be aware of what is going on in their local communities," he said. 

1 NEWS started making inquiries this morning, and by midday the ad had been pulled. However it's understood the image of the mountain as a rack of lamb has been used in Ovation's overseas marketing for years.

The company has apologised and says it never intended to offend.

It will no longer display the image, but says it'll take time to eliminate the 'lambscape' from all existing promotional material.