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Māori Advisory Committees

If your intellectual property includes a Māori element, your application may be referred to a Māori Advisory Committee. 

The Māori Advisory Committees were established to minimise the risk that the Crown may inadvertently register intellectual property likely to cause offence to Māori.

There are two committees:

Design applications with Māori elements may also be considered by the Trade Marks Māori Advisory Committee.

Committee members have a deep understanding of mātauranga Māori and tikanga Māori (Māori worldview, culture and protocols).

Examples of the type of questions considered by the committees include whether:

  • an image in a trade mark draws from Māori culture in a manner that could be offensive to Māori
  • an invention claimed in a patent application is derived from Māori traditional knowledge or from indigenous plants or animals
  • commercial exploitation of an invention would be contrary to Māori values.

It doesn’t cost extra, and in most cases doesn’t delay the process, to have your application assessed by a Māori Advisory Committee.

The Māori Advisory Committee process

If we decide the application needs to go to an advusory committee, the following will happen:

  1. We’ll let you know if your intellectual property application has been referred to a Māori Advisory Comittee.
  2. The assessment by the Māori Advisory Comittee happens while we consider the rest of your application.
  3. We consider the advice from the Māori Advisory Comittee, but can come to a decision different to the advice received.
  4. The advice of the Māori Advisory Comittee is sent to you (the applicant) when the decision is issued.

If your application is declined by us on the advice of a Māori Advisory Committee, you'll be given the opportunity to respond in writing and explain why you disagree. The Māori Advisory Committee will consider and respond to this additional information.

Even if your application is approved, sometimes other concerns are raised that could impact market sales in New Zealand. It’s wise to consider the Māori Advisory Comittee advice, as their perspective represents how your product will be perceived in the marketplace – it’s not good business practice to unwittingly alienate potential customers.

Maori Trade Marks Advisory Committee

The members of the Māori Trade Marks Advisory Committee are appointed by the Commissioner of Trade Marks under section 177 of the Trade Marks Act 2002.

The function of the Advisory Committee under section 178 of the Act is to advise the Commissioner whether the proposed use or registration of a trade mark that is, or appears to be, derivative of a Māori sign, including text and imagery, is, or is likely to be, offensive to Māori.

  • Ms Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka is the Chair of the Committee. She was a member of the Māori Trade Marks Focus Group established by the Ministry of Commerce in 1995 and 1996 to facilitate consultation on the reform of the Trade Marks Act. She has extensive experience in Māori tourism, and currently works as a private consultant.
  • Dr Deidre Brown is a Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Auckland. Previously she was a Senior Lecturer in Fine Arts and Art History at the University of Canterbury. Her specialist areas are Māori art and architecture, Māori and technology, the history and theory of architecture, digitisation and culture, and the relationship of art, museology and curatorship to architecture. Deidre is widely published and has lectured internationally on the topics of Māori art and iconography.
  • Professor Pare Keiha has a background that spans both academic and commercial environments. He is currently the Tumuaki of Te Ara Poutama, the Dean of the Faculty of Māori Development, at the Auckland University of Technology. He is a member of the Board of the Foundation for Research Science and Technology (FRST), Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority (EECA) and the Waerenga-a-Hika Trust Board. He is also a director of Port of Gisborne Ltd and Gisborne City Holdings Ltd and is a member of the Institute of Directors.
  • Ms Tui Te Hau has previously been the New Zealand Trade Commissioner to Melbourne. Tui brings international commercial experience to the Committee and has previously advised Māori businesses on issues such as entering international markets and brand marketing. Tui currently works for Creative HQ as an Incubator Manager.

Patents Act 2013 - Māori Advisory Committee

Members of the Patents Māori advisory committee (Patents MAC) are appointed by the Commissioner of Patents under section 225 of the Patents Act 2013.

The function of the Patents MAC is to advise the Commissioner on whether commercial exploitation of such inventions would likely be contrary to Māori values.

  • Professor Pare Keiha is the Committee Chair. He has a background that spans both academic and commercial environments. He is currently the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Maori Advancement, Pro Vice Chancellor for Learning and Teaching and Dean/Tumaki of Te Ara Poutama, the Faculty of Māori & Indigenous Advancement, at AUT University. Professor Keiha has served on a number of boards and committees including the Board of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology and he was a member of the Centre for Performance Base Research Fund Committee of the Royal Society of New Zealand. In 2008, he was made a Companion of the Queen’s Service Order for his services to business, education and Māori.
  • Ms Karen Te O Kahurangi Waaka is the Chair of the Trade Marks Māori advisory committee and a member of the Māori Trade Marks Focus Group. She has extensive experience in Māori tourism, and is currently a television and film producer.
  • Mr Baden Vertongen is a barrister and solicitor specialising in Māori law. He has worked on a number of client cases relating to the negotiation and settlement of Treaty of Waitangi claims, and the protection and utilisation of those assets post-settlement. Baden is also an associate member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors.

More information