- Air New Zealand/Facebook; Tracey Nearmy/Reuters
- Air New Zealand repeatedly spoke to a customer in te reo, the Māori language, in a series of Facebook comments despite the customer’s repeated requests that it speak in English.
- The airline used te reo phrases like “kia ora” (hello), “taihoa koe ka kite” (you will see), and “Kirihimete” (Christmas) in its comments.
- Meanwhile, the customer had written in their comments: “I’m not Māori,” and “I’m still not Māori.”
- Te reo is one of New Zealand’s official languages, alongside English and New Zealand sign language.
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Air New Zealand trolled a customer by repeatedly speaking to them in the Māori language even though they kept saying they didn’t understand it.
In a series of Facebook exchanges, the airline peppered phrases in te reo – the language of the indigenous Māori people – in its English messages, despite the customer’s repeated requests for an English-only response.
It all started on Wednesday, when a customer asked the airline on its official Facebook page when a new airport lounge would be open.
Below is the ensuing exchange, with the original spelling and capitalizations unchanged. Business Insider chosen not to report the customer’s name.
Air NZ: Kia ora [name redacted], our team are working hard to finish our amazing lounge for customers. We hope to have more information regarding this shortly. ^FC.
“Kia ora” is “hello” in te reo. “FC” appear to be the initials of the Air New Zealand employee who posted the comment.
Customer: Hello FC (I’m not maori), any likelihood it will be open by mid-December?
Air NZ: We do not expect this lounge to be re-opened within 2019, [name redacted]. However, taihoa koe ka kite all the amazing improvements we have made. ^FC.
The te reo phrase above translates to “you will see” in English.
Customer: Air New Zealand I’m still not maori. What’s the English translation of that?
At this point, another customer joined the conversation with a link to an online Māori dictionary.
Air NZ: We’ve done a bit of digging for you, [name redacted], and it looks like the lounge will be open just before Kirihimete! We can’t wait to open the doors again, then you’ll get to see all the amazing improvements we’ve made. ^SM.
“Kirihimete” is “Christmas” in te reo. The signoff suggests that another airline employee with the initials SM wrote it post.
Te reo is one of New Zealand’s three official languages, alongside English and New Zealand sign language.
The country has taken great steps to honor its Māori traditions, with most state and royal visits involving Māori ceremonies, and foreign diplomats being heavily encouraged to learn te reo in their postings, according to The Guardian.
Air New Zealand has not yet responded to Business Insider’s request for comment on its language policy. The airline’s flight staff are required to greet passengers in te reo upon boarding, The Guardian reported, and its flight magazine is also called “Kia Ora.”
You can see the entire exchange between Air New Zealand and the customer below. The original post has been deleted, but multiple versions of it have been saved and circulated online.
- Air New Zealand/Facebook
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