Māori Committees for IP

Māori Committees for IP

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

Intellectual property (IP) legislation in New Zealand provides for the establishment of Māori committees for certain types of IP. The purpose of these committees is to consider IP applications under the context of values, concepts, practices and knowledge associated with Māori culture, and advise whether proposed IP is likely to be offensive to Māori.

There are two committees:

Design applications with Māori elements may be considered by the Trade Marks Māori Advisory Committee. The Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 is also expected to establish a Māori committee for plant varieties.

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 such an invention would be contrary to Māori values.
  • A new plant variety belonging to an indigenous plant species or a non-indigenous species of significance has a kaitiaki relationship with a Māori entity.

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

Māori Advisory Committee process for Trade Marks and Patents

If we decide that a trade mark or patent application needs to go to an advisory committee, the following will happen:

  1. We’ll let you know if your application has been referred to a Māori Advisory Committee.
  2. The assessment by the Māori Advisory Committee happens while we consider the rest of your application.
  3. We consider the advice from the Māori Advisory Committee, but can come to a decision different to the advice received.
  4. The advice of the Māori Advisory Committee 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 Committee 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.

Māori 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.
  • Dr Karaitiana Taiuru PhD, JP (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Rārua, Ngāti Kahungunu, Pākehā) is an advocate and proponent for online and digital Māori rights, data sovereignty/digital colonialism, te reo Māori revitalisation with technology, cultural appropriation, Māori representation and Intellectual Property Rights, raising tikanga Māori and mātauranga Māori awareness in digital and other new technologies.
  • Ms Aroha Te Pareake Mead is an independent researcher specialising in Mātauranga Māori/Indigenous Knowledge, Biocultural Diversity and Indigenous Cultural & Intellectual Property Rights. She has published extensively on these issues. Aroha is also a member of the Repatriation Advisory Panel (Te Papa Tongarewa), Kāhui Māori (Deep South Climate Change National Science Challenge) and Kāhui Māori (Genomics Aotearoa). Her former roles include: Director, Māori Business, Victoria University of Wellington; Global Chair, IUCN Commission on Environmental, Economic and Social Policy (CEESP); and Policy Manager, Cultural Heritage & Indigenous Issues Unit, Te Puni Kōkiri.

Māori Patents Advisory Committee

Members of the Māori advisory committee for Patents (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.

Māori Plant Varieties Committee

The establishment of a Māori committee for plant varieties under the Plant Variety Rights Act 2022 is currently in progress at this time.

More information