Funkwerks changes the name of its Maori King after cross-cultural brewhaha

Last week, Funkwerks Brewing, a relatively new and innovative brewery in Fort Collins, sparked an international incident when some of New Zealand's native Maori people bashed the name and label on one of its beers, Maori King, an imperial saison made with Rakau hops from that country. The beer, which is only available in Colorado, has been served on tap and recently became available in 750 ml bottles.

Sources quoted in New Zealand media said the beer's label, which shows a depiction of a Maori moko face, was insulting to their heritage. (The Maori are New Zealand's indigenous Polynesian people.) "Essentially, it's about exploitation, and in terms of our Maori king, in effect it's misappropriating his mana," one said.

Another said the name was "culturally inappropriate," while a third said he was "deeply offended."

After a weekend of tortured debate on the brewery's Facebook page and in the New Zealand media, Funkwerks announced on Monday that it will change the name of the beer from Maori King to Southern Tropic.

"Our goal at Funkwerks is to make good beer for our customers," owner Brad Lincoln and Gordon Schuck said in a statement. "Our intention was not to disrespect the Māori people or their culture in naming our Māori King beer. Out of respect, we are re-branding this beer as Southern Tropic."

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