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‘Oh dear’: The Warehouse says sorry for te reo mistake inviting people to ‘have a beer day’

Maioha Panapa

An attempt to invite people to ‘have a good day’ in te reo has backfired for The Warehouse

Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ On Air

An attempt to invite people to ‘have a good day’ in te reo has backfired for The Warehouse which instead suggested people ‘have a beer day’.

The Warehouse Group has apologised for selling a blank A4 notebook with the misspelled Māori greeting on its cover.

Instead of kia pai te rā - have a good day - the notebook cover stated kia pia te rā - have a beer day.

The Uniti product has been withdrawn from shelves and online. Uniti is a private label brand of The Warehouse, also available at Warehouse Stationery.

Te reo Māori expert and Māori language commission chairwoman Rawinia Higgins’ first reaction was: “Oh dear”.

The Warehouse error was unfortunate but it was also a “positive reflection of their support for the language“, Higgins says.

Rather than put people off using te reo, Higgins wants to encourage it.

“I think we know of examples where this has happened.

“We also know the exposure it brings particularly on social media platforms where there are criticisms.

“So I can’t say that it doesn’t happen, but I like to think that as people start to engage with the language and want to promote the language on products, that they are thinking through some quality assurances of using that language because of course it can definitely draw a lot of negativity.

“From my perspective, from the commission, we would encourage people to use the language as much as possible, however instigate a process of ensuring that there’s quality assurance and when in doubt in seeking that sort of support, to reach out to the commission.”

This is the second time this has happened to The Warehouse.

Last year The Warehouse released a poster map of Aotearoa with misspelled place names like “Roturua” (Rotorua) or “Paraparaumo” (Paraparaumu).

The Warehouse Group offered full refunds to customers who returned the map, and explained they were developing a module on what must be checked on merchandise.

Caitlin Madden, Warehouse communications advisor, acknowledged the recent mistake and said the company remained committed to the visibility of te reo Māori on its products.

“The Warehouse is committed to having both English and te reo Māori on our private label products and packaging, and we work in partnership with a Māori translation service to guide us on the hundreds of products we offer to our customers.

“We apologise that we didn’t get it right in this instance.”

Madden said The Warehouse had changed its process around its te reo products.

“Our current [Māori] partners were not involved in that ( kia pia te rā) process. But it is a real journey for us and we’ve been changing our ways so we can include more structure and rigour.”

The company declined to stipulate when the mistake was noticed, and how many copies had been sold and withdrawn. The error was noticed by a staff member, Madden said.

We caught this issue early which meant the notebook had not reached all our stores and a very small number of notebooks were sold.”

Hero Image: Kia pia te rā means 'have a beer day'. Image / NZME

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