Efforts to trademark parts of the haka made famous by the All Blacks have failed.
The lower North Island iwi (tribe) Ngati Toa wanted to trademark four key phrases of Ka Mate, the haka which its 19th-century warrior chief Te Rauparaha first performed while emerging from a kumara pit in which he was hiding.
But trademarks assistant commissioner Jennie Walden ruled the iwi didn’t have a monopoly over its commonly used words even though it owned the haka and key phrases in it, Fairfax reported.
Taku Parai, chairman of the iwi’s governing body, Te Runanga o Toa Rangatira, was disappointed.
“Our intentions … were to solely protect what we see as a taonga (treasure) from being misused. There has been no other mechanism that we could use to protect this work.”
The bid had been opposed by Christchurch souvenir company ProKiwi, which the iwi wanted to stop producing a tea towel featuring the words “ka mate”.
“I think every now and then people have to stick up for what their principles are,” ProKiwi owner Rafe Hammett said.
ProKiwi’s lawyer, Kate Duckworth, said the decision set a precedent.
Although Ngati Toa said it didn’t want people to stop using the haka, a decision the other way could have resulted in it being allowed to be performed only if Ngati Toa granted permission.