As any person who accidentally got the Mandarin character for “soup” tattooed on them in the early 2000s can tell you, whenever you’re not dealing with your primary language, always run whatever you’re translating past a native speaker. Not only is it respectful, but it’s also the best way to prevent yourself from doing something incredibly stupid, like spending tens of thousands of dollars on beer cans emblazoned with the Maori word for “pubic hair.”
The beer in question: Huruhuru New Zealand Hopped Pale Ale, the top-selling beer of Canadian microbrewery Hell’s Basement. The brewery’s owners believed that huruhuru was the Maori word for “feather” and meant to imply that the beer itself was light as a feather. They were set straight after receiving a phone call from popular New Zealand television personality and Maori advocate TeHamua Nikora, who discovered the brewery online. On August 3rd Nikora took to Facebook to break the news of the pube beer to the public:
“I said to the beer fellas—when I’m drinking, will I get a tickle in my throat? And will it get suck in my teeth?” said Nikora. “Do I need a breath freshener afterwards?
“Some people call it appreciation, I call it appropriation,” he continued. “These fellas... they hear the Maori are the coolest people on earth, and they’re right about that. And then they want a piece of that ass. A piece of that ass! And they just help themselves.”
After three days of getting his ass totally owned by the irate (and bemused!) Kiwis of the Internet, Hell’s Basement co-founder Mike Patriquin went on Radio New Zealand to officially apologize.
“We did not realise the potential to offend through our artistic interpretation, and given the response we will attempt to do better in the future,” Patriquin said. “We wish to make especially clear that it was not our intent to infringe upon, appropriate, or offend the Maori culture or people in any way; to those who feel disrespected, we apologize. We also do not think pubic hair is shameful.”
Patriquin said he and his partners are considering rebranding Huruhuru Ale in the future, ostensibly after the brewery’s current supply of printed aluminum cans runs out. If you’re a collector of pube-related memorabilia, you can purchase cans from Hell’s Basement’s online store, for who knows if you’ll ever have an opportunity like this again? Nikora’s message was not only about appropriation, but also about truth in advertising:
“Don’t call beer pubic hair unless you make it with pubic hair.”