Toi Tangata is taking a stand against intellectual property breach and cultural appropriation

For immediate release
Tuesday 10 September 2019

Toi Tangata is taking a stand against intellectual property breach and cultural appropriation

Toi Tangata is deeply concerned to learn of the launch of a new vape kit by a UK company using its brand mark which is not only a blatant infringement on the copyright of the Toi Tangata brand, but appropriation of Māori culture.

As covered on TVNZ’s Fair Go last night (Monday 9 September 2019), AMC (Acapella Mod Co) Ltd of the United Kingdom has used the imagery of Māori health agency, Toi Tangata, on its newly released ‘Haka Legend Kit.

Toi Tangata is a Māori agency which develops, delivers, and champions kaupapa Māori based approaches to hauora (wellbeing) so the use of the logo directly and deliberately disrespects its vision and values.

“The idea that people would use not only our branding but our culture to try and encourage to use their product is highly disturbing,” says Toi Tangata CEO, Megan Tunks.

“Commodifying Māori culture through the use of the term ‘haka’ as well as through the imagery is highly offensive. We do not want Māori to be exploited when they have chosen to vape to quit smoking.”

Toi Tangata reached out to Hāpai Te Hauora, National Tobacco Control Advocacy Service, who engaged legal support from Simpson Grierson. The company was then contacted to remove the brand mark because of intellectual property breaches to which they declined, instead claiming ownership of the design and rights through heritage.

While Toi Tangata acknowledges the whakapapa Māori (Māori genealogy) of the company creator, Acapella Harrison, they urge him to think twice about commodifying Māori culture for profit.

“We call for AMC Ltd to voluntarily remove the product which is offensive to our organisation and to Māori in general and urge them not to produce any further products that have Māori tohu,” says Tunks.

Toi Tangata wishes to minimise harm to Māori and indigenous people and recognises their Māori icon/intellectual property has been used as a familiar and reassuring inducement to purchase this product.

The Toi Tangata logo represents the physical manifestation of life and elements which contribute to achieving the highest point in one’s life. The angle represents the highest point, which can be translated to maunga (mountain), whare (house), or ūpoko (head)– all core elements in the development of health, economic prosperity, academic excellence and community. The brand mark also represents a range of natural opposing combinations including male and female, good and bad, life and death, and land and water.

Toi Tangata encourages AMC Ltd to acknowledge their mistake and misuse and take steps to rectify it.

Megan Tunks, CEO Toi Tangata 022 658 5215