'Mocking Māori culture': Australian bar removes tā moko from beer showcase ad after criticism

Advocates have condemned a Melbourne bar's decision to advertise a week-long beer showcase using a tā moko drawn on the face of the bar's namesake.

Melbourne bar Freddie Wimpoles, named after a former St Kilda mayor, has since removed the picture of the mayor bearing the traditional Māori facial tattoo, which was being used to advertise a beer festival around Waitangi Day.

Co-founder of Wellington-based Craft Beer College Steph Coutts, who spoke out against its use, says the bar sought permission for using the mayor's image, but not for adding the tā moko.

"They didn't appreciate that they need the permission of the owner of the tā moko," she told RNZ.

"And if they just made the tā moko up, they were culturally appropriating something important and sacred to Māori."

She added that the Wimpoles' manager told her there was no problem with the imagery, as he was a New Zealander himself.

Māori culture advocate Karaitiana Taiuru told RNZ that the use of the tā moko was particularly inappropriate when associated with a dead person, and further when that was coupled with food and drink.

"It is being disrespectful to the person's whole genealogy, or simply mocking Māori culture."

Ms Coutts also contacted another Australian bar inappropriately using tā moko in their advertising.

She told RNZ they showed regret for a genuine mistake, immediately removing the image and posting a public apology.

In the lead-up to Waitangi Day, Ms Coutts and Mr Taiuru are working with the Brewers Guild of New Zealand to develop advertising guidelines to distribute to bars and brewers.