20 Apr 2013

Anger at plant to trademark of Fijian designs

9:02 am on 20 April 2013

Pacific artists in New Zealand are opposing a bid by Air Pacific to trademark patterns from Fijian tapa prints.

The airline is rebranding as Fiji Airways in June and wants to use the designs on its new planes and promotional materials.

It has already trademarked its new logo which is based on a tapa design, but the bid to claim commercial ownership of another 15 motifs has sparked protests from cultural and women's groups in Fiji.

Auckland tapa artist Joana Monolagi says Fijians in New Zealand are also angry at the attempt to commercialise their cultural heritage.

"This is something that belongs to us as Fijians. It's our culture, our heritage, our identity that they're trying to copyright and you can't do that."'

She says the Fiji government should reject the trademark application because no one person or organisation should own the designs.

Many of the designs are also used in Tongan, Samoan and Niuean tapa prints, tattooing and carving.

Pacific Islands Museums Association secretary general Tarisi Vunidilo says if the airline succeeds, artists will have to stop using the designs or get the airline's permission and possibly pay a fee.