A Christchurch fish and chip restaurant owner is seeking a locally made tomato sauce after wiping Wattie's from the menu.
Anton Matthews, who champions the correct use of te reo Māori, pulled
the product over its billboard advertising campaign which pokes fun at
Stuff reported he was horrified to find billboards pop up across the
city featuring Māori place names mis-spelled to include foods that pair
with tomato sauce. The billboards, which the company has now agreed to
amend, featured New Zealand towns changed to names like Piehia,
Frittianga and Wanakebab.
The story got social media humming, with hundreds of comments
condemning, supporting or laughing at the company's stance, and
Commenters said the billboards were cringeworthy, embarrassing,
offensive, juvenile, and that making fun of te reo was disrespectful.
Others urged people to "lighten up" and to see the joke.
Others challenged Mr Matthews over the name of his restaurant, Fush - a
play on the Kiwi pronunciation of "fish", while another said about the
move by Watties that "maybe the advertising and marketing team may
rebrand themselves as Twatties".
Matthews told RNZ that alongside the restaurant he ran, he did
everything he could to promote and encourage people in the community and
beyond to embrace te reo Māori.
"Despite all that progress, and we've had some awesome support which is great, people still do mis-pronounce place names."
He said making an effort with any language was what counted, but it did
not help when it was rendered incorrect for commercial gain.
"When the intent behind this campaign was to promote the
mispronunciation, that's when it became like, 'hey, we're just a bit
"I'm not saying they're (Wattie's) bad people, I'm just saying they
probably should have consulted someone to ask what they thought. If
they'd rung me up I would have said, 'hey, maybe don't do that'."
Matthews wrote to the company to let them know he liked its product, but
was disappointed in the campaign and that he would be seeking an
alternative sauce for now.
"That's really all we did but it's blown up into something much bigger.
"I'm not saying it's the end of the world, I'm just saying we could
probably do better and big brands like Watties...we need to do more to
step up and celebrate the language and the rejuvenation of te reo Māori.
He said it was not lost on him that the name of his restaurant Fush was a
play on the word fish, the way many New Zealanders pronounced it.
"That point has been made several times but the reason it's important to
pronounce Māori place names correctly is because Māori place names have
been mispronounced for a long, long time and it's something we're
trying to fix, and correct as a society."
Matthews said it was not to say that Māori was more important than any
other language, but he wondered how New Zealanders might react if
something as sacred as Anzac was mispronounced.
"That's a sacred, special thing to us, and I'm not trying to be
dramatic, but for Māori te reo Māori is a taonga. Te reo Māori has a
special place in our hearts and people like me, my friends, my whānau
and others are working really hard to preserve it and correct some bad
Matthews said place names often had a story, an oral tradition and
significant meaning behind them, and to mis-pronounce them was
disrespectful to the ancestors of a place.
He was satisfied with the company's plan to amend the campaign, although
he did not believe it went quite far enough. The company planned to
pull all the Māori names but not "Piehia" because it underpinned the
He said the response seemed genuine, but it was possibly a calculated gamble in raising its profile.
Matthews said his restaurant was currently using a different sauce, and
had put out a call for suggestions on a more local option.
"We've had some really awesome suggestions coming in."
Join Geezgo for free. Use Geezgo's end-to-end encrypted Chat with your Closenets (friends, relatives, colleague etc) in personalized ways.>>