A teen employee at a Hamilton McDonald’s keen to celebrate Māori Language Week with customers had her enthusiasm dashed this week when a manager told her not to speak New Zealand's official language.
Janine Eru-Taueki, 19, was told it would be considered rude to address customers in a language other than English, she told Māori Television.
Some customers who don't speak te reo might think an employee is talking about them, a company representative told the station.
"This is the first time I've been told by anyone that I can't speak Māori," Ms Eru-Taueki said.
"I don't agree because Māori is an official language of this country. Some of the customers come up and ask if they can make their order in Māori. I was really sad the other night because I couldn't speak to them in Māori myself."
But McDonald’s officials said they are learning from the situation and will explore policies that might better support Māori Language Week in the future. The restaurant didn’t receive any customer complaints about Ms Eru-Taueki’s bilingual efforts, they confirmed.