More Maori King Controversy

To whom it may concern,

I’m Gordon Schuck, brewer and co-owner of Funkwerks, and I’m the one that named Maori King. Let me tell a little about Funkwerks, the origin of the beer, and ultimately why I chose that name. I’m hoping this will clear-up the misinformation that is out there and shed light on my intentions.

First of all, Funkwerks is a small brewery, really small. When I came up with the recipe for Maori King last November the total amount of beer sold for the year was maybe 10 hectoliters, we only had two employees, and our beer was distributed no further than 5 kilometers. We are not some big, arrogant company as some articles seem to imply.

We opened our tasting room at the brewery last year and wanted to make an extra special version of our Saison, that’s when the idea for an “Imperial” Saison was floated around. We have always used organic ingredients in our beers and I wanted to try an organic New Zealand hop I had read about called Rakau. Well, in short, the beer turned out wonderful. The unique character of the beer is directly the result of these New Zealand hops so I wanted a name that tied in with that. So I did what most people do, I went to Google. I learned about the Maori people. I learned about the New Zealand hop growers using Maori words to name new varieties of hops. I learned about the Maori King movement. My first thought was to name the beer Kingitanga. As much as I like obscure hard to pronounce words, I knew we needed a name that was easy to pronounce. So I chose Maori King. What could be more New Zealand than the native people of New Zealand? What could be more imperial than king?

There is a saying, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. The Maori King name was meant as homage to the Maori people and their fight to have their own leaders. I don’t know the entire history of the Maori people but if it’s anything like the Native Americans, I’m sure they’ve gotten the short end of the stick. I’m very sympathetic to native people. My fiancé is part Native American. I never meant this name to be construed as an insult and for that I am deeply sorry.

We get a quite a few people visiting our brewery and asking “What’s Maori?” At that point they get a brief explanation about the Maori people being the native people of New Zealand. I hope that the Maori people will realize that in a small corner of Colorado there are a few more people that know more about the Maori people. At the very least that is a good thing.


Gordon Schuck


19 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Ezekiel
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:33:51

    Where can I purchase some Maori King Ale please!!


    • Takutai
      Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:49:51

      Fu@K YOU you a dickhead too you idiot why dont you call it Sitting Bull or something or Apache coz you now the natives probly blow you up we have the same terrible past as them you F@uck head and as forn you idiots that think this is cool go F@#k off to america


  2. Ata
    Aug 29, 2011 @ 16:43:22

    Yes please at least your intentions were true to form. send me your address please


  3. FKC214
    Aug 30, 2011 @ 16:58:35

    Kia ora Ata when you get some let me know.


    Sep 01, 2011 @ 06:04:52

    BARMEN: Hi what can I serve you?
    CUSTOMER: I’ll have a Maori King and a Waikato thanks.


  5. Shane Ta'ala
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 06:28:51

    Well interesting enough,
    There is nothing Maori / NZ / or KIWI about this company, it is not even in Aotearoa. But I wonder, is that an issue? Its like the Lego Toy company who made a Maui series of Lego toys. Lego made money from it… It didn’t cost Maori anything, but the issue became one of Intellectual Cultural Property, and the fact that Maori profited zero from Lego’s branding and sales. I love the Funkwerks Maori Branding!! Their story / rationale that underpins their branding is cool too. I am not saying it is right or wrong as that is not my place. But it raises some great dialogue, like:

    Do Maori gain more from some non Maori businesses profiling a Maori brand theme look and feel? Or does it truly detract away from Maori Cultural Identity – IP? Is it a case of, well we don’t know how to profit from our cultural identity, so you sure as hell aint gonna do what we are not prepared to do for ourselves??

    And that raises the question: Maori and Pasifika seem to be overly represented as a happy client to Lion Breweries & DB health products. It would probably have been more relevant for Lion / DB to run a Maori branded Beer campaign since geographically, Maori are their direct target market, and a hugely successful one, but you wont see writes ups on this in NZ Entrepreneur Magazine right…. So what does Lion and DB invest back into their market driven relationship with Maori? Nothing?? Wow, so its a free ride. Cost of Sales to a Maori demographic in NZ: Zero. Maori dont need to be marketed too, sold too or advertised to; in order to engage the demographic into making repeat purchases. The Maori beer purchasing market segment is so brand savvy, it dosent need Maori specific branded advertising to know what to buy and when to buy it!!
    Based on that premise, Funkwerks may not realise that their fastest growing market segment is actually in NZ.
    (Let me know if you have seen Alcohol related marketing campaigns that are Maori or Pacifically specific).


  6. Ezekiel
    Sep 01, 2011 @ 15:19:19

    @ Taniwha Rebel – tino haatakihi ehoa, nice one.


  7. Jean Rākena
    Sep 05, 2011 @ 18:34:24

    Dear Mr Schuck,
    I choose to take a personal offence against the naming of an alcohol drink Maori King in agreeance with Mr Ta’ala “I” do not need specific Māori brands advertising as a rememberance of all the innocent lives taken, ( My Ancestors) and land losses. I would of been more inclined if some research was done prior to being labelled, I see no justification towards your sympathy for people that you know little about. As for compensation for your act of labelling Maori King, I would be deeply grateful if a charity fund was set up for all New Zealand children whom lost their lives through social behaviour like alcohol consumption and the like.
    Recently, there was a large media focus on the fact that an ice-block product had been named Eskimo pie and a descendant of the Eskimo people had bought her case into media light. I may as well bring to your attention that not only have you degraded my indigenous rights, your decision has done so on the following counts:
    1. In our language as Maori is spelt Māori
    2. To the respective Royal Families
    3. To all that Kīngitanga holds: that is to all tribes whom the Kīngitanga represents for Māori Autonomy

    Just out of curiousity were the following ever suggested?
    Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth
    The Duke and Duchess of York
    The Duke and Duchess of Kensington
    The Duke and Duchess of Wales
    President Obama or The First lady


    • Takutai
      Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:40:36

      Nga mihi kia koe me ou whakaro taku kaihanga hei mamaetia kei waenga i tenei mea e hangai te tangatataureka nei.Mauri tu mauri ora ae mauri matekino i te wao o tauiwi


  8. Garrick
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 06:17:31

    I’m 3/4 Native american and 1/4 Hawaiian. the beer distr. Better be able to verify his fiance’s blood quantum! because in America!! u cannot claim to be Native american if y have no paper work!! inthis country!! it has become Complete Genocide for the american dream which is a joke!!!! so drive your suv and go home to your lil fantacy car While your forefathers Killed woman and children to so call live this American Dream all non natives should feel ashamed of themselves in America!!!! You didnt have enough nerve to make a beer from a native tribe in Colorado Because we wouldve came after you!!! so u come up with this bright idea of using a whole continent of indiginous people from a whole coutry as a title for your Beer what a Idiot!!! Im out..Big Native american Chief!!!


  9. Garrick
    Sep 28, 2011 @ 06:28:41

    Another thing!! Beer really!! the average age of life span in America for a native american man is 42!! they dont say nothing about that on CNN!!! and we usually die Hard!! from Alcohol!!! Beer!!! car wrecks suicides stabbings shootings!! all contributed to BEER!! so I imagine the same goes for the Maori People!!! that is why I dont drink the white Mans Poison!! my grandmother was a bootleggar/ medicine woman who only Spoke Apache in Arizona!! and she always told me to grow up and not drink your poison!! and lord willing that is what i have done for 6 years and get back in school!!! breaking stereo types in my 30’s in America!!


  10. Ezekiel
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 04:28:38

    @ Garrick – okay!


  11. whanau observer
    Dec 03, 2011 @ 08:13:44

    Kia ora Big Native American Chief, your analysis is spot on! Maybe it’s time for you to try your hand at some home grown politics. If Barak Obama can do it you can to? After all, Nanaia Mahuta is running for help-mate to David Cunliffe of labour! For now at least… she’s stepping up and maybe in another few years she’ll consider going for the real job.


  12. Takutai
    Dec 18, 2011 @ 10:31:35

    You dickhead alcohol has poisoned our people just as much as drugs you know f@#k all about kingitanga you dickhead i think of all the \kings not just Tuhei do you think Potatau Tawhiao Mahuta would want a beer representing them why dnt you call it Queen Eliazabeth beer her fore fathers created it you f@#ken moroon where are you based


  13. bigcurvygirls
    Apr 18, 2012 @ 04:46:21

    In reply to Takutui:
    Queen Elizabeth’s forefathers (ie the British) did NOT create beer.
    Beer is one of the world’s oldest prepared beverages, possibly dating back to the early Neolithic or 9500 BC!!! The Celts, Anglos or anyone remotely resembling modern-day Brits were not even in existence then.
    Before you mouth off in some rabid state, do your homework.
    Further, the “dickhead” beer manufacturer did not FORCE “our people” to drink. It was a choice they personally made.
    Calm down and grow up.


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