Apr 21, 2021


Maori News & Indigenous Views

“Maori King” beermaker, Funkwerks offer ‘explanation’ [full-text]

3 min read

TangataWhenua.com received the following letter from Gordon Schuck, co-owner of Funkwerks (and the man who named the beer, Maori King) –

He has asked that we publish it in it’s entirety.


To whom it may concern,

Im Gordon Schuck, brewer and co-owner of Funkwerks, and Im 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. Im 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, thats 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 dont know the entire history of the Maori people but if its anything like the Native Americans, Im sure theyve gotten the short end of the stick. Im very sympathetic to native people. My fianc 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 Whats 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

67 thoughts on ““Maori King” beermaker, Funkwerks offer ‘explanation’ [full-text]

  1. Its all about Money, Alcohol, and Mockery. Mix them together you get a melting POT. Watch out for those who drunk or burnt at the stake. Then who has the last laugh.

  2. The worlds our oyster and maori love eating oysters im an uneducated waikato maori boy Waikato brew is brewed here on the shores of the waikato river profits stay here not in america i hope my lawyer cuzzys sue the fuck out of you Gordon Schuck that sownd German or Jewish not American or native american

  3. Y didnt they call it Apache or cheerakee coz that would probly land them in court or the morg and Jack Cooper you are full of shit make heaps of money you pricks so we can take you to court and get all that you profit not even the chiness scope that low

  4. I am amused by the continued assumption here that this is some big, bad American company that made this blunder. They have no “marketing” people, it’s just a couple guys in a garage, brewing beer. There is no national marketing scheme; and little said on this site will make any sort of impact in their distribution area of a portion of the state of Colorado.

    I’ve never heard of them before, and I have friends in their town! Their beer is not even sold in my state! You don’t market where you’re not selling.

    I stumbled on this post searching for “New Zealand Hops,” and at that, this shows up somewhere on page 15 of the search results. I wouldn’t worry about any comments here helping their marketing efforts, really.

    And please note, they did change the name. We Americans can be pretty ignorant at times, but most of us will try to do the right thing when we finally figure that out…

  5. sometimes a story helps people understand we love the word maori it represents every one of us we also love our king cause he comes from a line of chiefs we protect the things that are true to us walk with respect and tread with care little one

  6. I am so glad all these people are getting all-up in arms for a beer named halfway acrros the world that will never reach NZ much less Cali… Dont you all have nothing else to worry about.. world hunger/the economy/ poverty. The naming wasnt intended to be derogtory grow up.

      1. Don’t think of the world in distance think in terms of we are communicating the world is a lot smaller now than you think isn’t that right

        Are only companies allowed to protect their brand cause they do this when they are threatened why can’t we?

        I use brand cause that’s the closest thing you have to Mana in this conversation.

        I hope that helps

  7. Jack:
    I believe you’ll find that “oxymoron” is ONE word, not two…
    you MORON!

    1. Back on the spelling bee again and ignoring the issue Gordons marketing tools are pretty articulate I must say

          1. And I split the word on purpose because oxy was not the moron in my statement you were

          2. Now stop playing your nasty kick us while we are down games that’s what they want, stop being a tool for Racsism

          3. Now that we have soughted that out I think someone better get a good Lawyer, cause they are gonna need it there Bro

  8. “Sorry Ill try keep my spelt poperly k
    Stop getting off the point you are a marketing tool for them this is exactly what they expected yous coming out of the woodworks to taunt us for having feelings. Its a pretty clever plan when you think about it oh that requires thinkng ,never mind”
    Jack, you really have to get a grip on your linguistic skills if you wish to engage in more social networking. Your comments are not making sense. how much Maori King have you had tonight?

    1. I havent been drinking and I am sorry about not keeping up to your high standards their Bro

  9. Dear Gordon

    Doesn’t the idiot who posted earlier prove how effective your strategy is Mate, oh my the brutality of it.

    Jack ano oh that means again

    ps Do you understand PESTEL

      1. No that spells E-N-O-C-H

        Whats your point Americans don’t understand what they do to earn money

        1. Really pity drivel I am stating facts here you can fight it all you want i enjoy watching mayhem

          1. I haven’t “slowed their princess” at all.
            I think only the British drove Austin Princesses.
            Therefore I could not have slowed any American’s Princess.
            But I think you meant:
            “You’re pretty slow there, princess.”
            Quite different in meaning.
            Please be clear.

          2. Look I’ll let ya sleep on your reply and then I’ll let you have mine But just before I go, get some help you have issues, just an observation

          3. I havent you state ANY facts yet I have And your spelt Bro they don’t like it when you do your englang not right

        2. This comment makes no sense. Please be more literate, if you wish to engage in conversation.

          1. Sorry I’ll try keep my spelt poperly k

            Stop getting off the point you are a marketing tool for them this is exactly what they expected yous coming out of the woodworks to taunt us for having feelings. Its a pretty clever plan when you think about it oh that requires thinkng ,never mind

        3. The “Americans” What a hoot. The use of this mostly meaningless and vague label as a pejorative is further evidence of profound ignorance. No one in “America” even knows this is happening unless you count a couple of guys boiling barley in a garage in Ft. Collins. (There might be a story there. Do you know why it is called Fort Collins and the history of Native Americans in Colorado? Of course you don’t.)

          So when a handful of people on a far distant wee island in the southern most reaches of the Pacific get all riled up about “The Americans” we just roll our eyes and go about our business.

          1. We don’t discriminate when it comes to business i don’t think we should let people off with Inciting racial hatred to promote a product cause they aresmall you keep going off on a tangent

          2. I fail to see what my knowlege of native american history has to do with this matter.

          3. Roll your eyes and go about your business thats alright good on ya mate But if your name was Gordon Schuck well then you’d be worried

          4. Clearly u haven’t rolled your eyes and gone about your business if u are posting here Thom.

  10. Oh puh-LEEEZZZ!!! Get a grip!!!!
    The world does not revolve around Bro Town!
    They didn’t use a picture of your king. They merely used a stylised facial tattoo and called it “Maori King” Beer. No-one has any claim on that. Sorry, cuzzies, but there’s not a chance in hell that you’ll be able to score any freebees or koha this time! THAT’s what you’re REALLY pissed about: no back-handers.
    Do a bit of reading yourselves, and you’ll understand just how MINOR this issue is. The brewery is miniscule. Its output is tiny. The only reason we’ve even HEARD about this, is because it’s turned into a media and maori “beat-up”!!
    This is just like Tariana Turia getting her knickers all twisted back in June, about milk powder with a maori maiden’s image on the container! There IS no issue here…except in the minds of those in da hood, who believe nasty white honky imperialists have screwed them out of everything they’re entitled to!
    Get over your precious selves!
    This country – and your people – has FAR bigger problems to tackle than this!

    1. Do you think this company understands business and marketing? to play the victim in this matter is pretty naive.

        1. “Bro town is not Maori”…is that the best you can do?
          I used the term ‘Bro Town’ as a flippancy, to encompass in a generalised manner all things indigenous.
          Come to think of it: maori, indigenous, brown brethren, cuzzies, iwi, tangata whenua, under-privileged, bros…
          NZ European, honkey, pakeha, whitey, oppressor…
          food for thought?
          We all have our own terms – we all call ’em as ya see ’em.

      1. I felt from the company’s response that, although it understood marketing, it possibly felt it was so small that no-one would care what it did.
        To put it into perspective, it’s about the size and output of the old Foxton Lemonade Company. If that. It’s not much more than a neighbourhood bar that makes its own brew.
        It MAY be naive – but I don’t believe that was any nasty intent.

        1. Making profit off us fighting on their page is ill intent, inciting racial hatred for profit is ill intent, look what you said thats what the goal was to draw yous out of the woodwork to fight with us

          1. And if it is the business you say that is free advertising and believe me it would be on a global scale

          2. Bro your their marketing tool, I am not and I can do better than Bro town I just didn’t realise it was a competition

  11. Dear Gordon

    on further reflection I can not believe this was unintentional buddy, you had to know exactly what you were doing and that’s the position you must defend, When are you going to answer our people, I say that you understood that theres no such thing as bad publicity in America and so what if Maori came onto your page and fought for their rights you were innocent, and because of my countrymens different views on the matter we would probably fight amongst ourselves, you would have your profit and we would be to blame.

    Mauria ora

    Do you understand PESTEL???

    Jack Cooper

    1. To Jack:
      Sure, I understand PESTEL. It’s a strategic planning technique that provides a useful framework for analysing the environmental pressures on a team or an organisation.
      PESTEL stands for Political, Economic, Social, Technical, Environmental and Legislative.
      A PESTEL Analysis can be particularly useful for groups who have become too inward-looking. They may be in danger of forgetting the power and effect of external pressures for change because they are focused on internal pressures.
      Hmmm, much like maoridom really…!
      PS: If you write your posts more clearly, your thoughts may be taken more seriously. But most of what you’ve written here makes no sense, even when drunk!

  12. I feel sorry for him actually as there was no ill-will intended – in fact if anything – he was aiming to be positive about what he thought the name stood for.
    It would be a positive thing if one of the Tangata Whenua from the area the hops are grown in were to make themselves available to assist him with other ideas for a brand
    Bottom line is that he’ll need to change his branding

  13. Kia ora

    I’m sure Mr Schuck never meant to cause any offense and feels badly that offense has been caused.

    However, if he had researched properly instead of just googling Maori, he would have found there are already a number of incidences where our names and heritage have been used for corporate gain.

    An alcohol product makes it extra insulting considering the issues Maori and other indigenous populations have concerning substance abuse but its just arrogance full stop to use another culture’s heritage to sell any product.

    I’m sure he’s not a bad person but is a combination of ignorance, arrogance and laziness that has lead him to this situation.

    The only course is to stop selling it. He’s made a mistake but saying oops I didn’t know is not a solution.

    Nga mihi

    1. “Opps, I didn’t know” that getting those honky muskets to kill off my neighbours (in exchange for my land) meant I wasn’t getting my land back.
      “Opps, I didn’t know” that screwing every sailor in Kororareka meant I was going to spread disease through my people.
      “Opps, I didn’t know” that ‘full and final settlement’ meant I couldn’t put my hand out for more.
      “Opps, I didn’t know” that $250-million a year to prop up the maori language means I actually have to start SPEAKING the stuff.
      “Opps, I didn’t know” that most of the country is more than a little pissed off at maoridom these days.
      “Gee, opps, how would I know that?”

  14. “What could be more imperial than king?” – short answer, The Crown – whose imperial asperations raped and pillaged Maori, disenfranchised iwi of their land, killed and imprisoned kuia and rangatira, beat te reo out of students and still refuse to recognise tino rangatiratanga…. I’m not sure how anyone could think that equating empire with any indigenous culture could be a good idea.
    And I absolutely hate the arrogance of pretty much everyone who missteps like this, and assumes that what matters is whether they *meant* to offend, not the offence occurring. It’s yet another insult, basically saying that people don’t have a right to be outraged by insensitive and boorish behaviour. You cannot deny people’s offence, by doing so you deny their autonomy (sound familiar? Its been going on for a long time, but in different forms…).
    When it comes to the crunch, maoritanga and its appropriate use should lie in the hands of Maori, and no one else. And Maori, like any other group, should have the right to say what is offensive or not. And no one, ever, should get away with pretending that “I’m sorry you were offended” is any kind of apology.

    Kia ora, mauri ora.

    1. I’m with ‘john’.. I too am Maori and will be happy to let you know if it is up to standard… And you would only have to send it to North Carolina for this maori princess to try… 🙂

  15. Dear Gordan

    I believe this is a tool that may help you with your marketing


    I have been to business studies in NZ for 6 months now and part of our course covered this. But I believe you would have already known this so it makes me a bit suspicious of your answer, but benefit of the doubt aye.

    It is offensive to Maori and New Zealanders in general. A quick search on Google would have alerted the Marketers to the threats associated with the improper and illegal use of Maori treasures in any from, by business corporations big or small (we don’t discriminate). I hope this helps you understand our side.

    Yours sincerely

    Jack Cooper

  16. Mr Schuck.

    Thank you for taking the time to explain however as a Maori in your country I can assure I will not “pay homage” to anyone by naming a product that causes health issues after a lineage of living people. Considering also the introduction of alcohol and the problems alcohol has caused for First Nations across the world your judgement has been poor. The fact you also had to add King to it without knowing about our royal Ancestors suggests no matter the size of your company the size of your ego.

    Your intentions however you think may be are not centered around us as a culture and tribe Mr Schnuck so please do not pretend you chose our name for your beer with that in mind to make up for your short sight but I speak for myself for I would not be so arrogant to speak for another nation let alone my own.

    So please as a Maori in your country change the name

    Thank you.

    1. To clarify:
      (1) maori are not regarded as ‘First Nation’ as they were NOT the first people in this country. They destroyed the original First Nation.
      (2) the maori king’s lineage was only decided by reluctant vote in the 1850s. It is not a true royal lineage.
      (3) it is not a lineage that is accepted by ALL maori.

      1. to clarify
        1 maori are regarded as the first nation but you knew that
        2 chiefs and kings hold the same rank but you knew that
        3 chief lines are accepted by all maori but you knew that

  17. I can see why this name has turned out as insulting as it has, the brewer did not realise IMHO New Zealand is NOT a Maori name (so a Maori term is NOT ‘really New Zealand’, a Maori term is Tangata Whenua) and also, if you ever want to know anything Maori you need to talk with Maori about it, not go to some writing and decide things for yourself.

    I can see they do not want the expense of changing their label, but they’d better. There are lots of NZers and that of course includes Maori, world-wide with lots of influence, we will keep on calling for this name to go.

    Too bad what the good intentions were, this name for beer is wrong wrong wrong and needs to be taken away, pronto. Kia ora.

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