Vending Machine With 'Kia Ora, Mate' Proves Why You Don't Mix Languages

A bemusing sign on a vending machine proves why marketing campaigns should probably do a bit more research before combining languages.

A Coke vending machine at Auckland Airport obviously intended for Australians travelling to the country had the seemingly-innocent phrase "Kia Ora, Mate" on it.

Kia Ora is Maori for "hello", and is frequently used in tourism campaigns. In other words, it's well known.

But it's slightly less well known that in Maori, "mate" means "death". Pronounced "muh-tay" (go here to listen to a pronunciation), the word means dead, deceased or killed.

Hello, Death. Not quite the marketing slogan Coke was probably going for.

"Mate" is also related to a host of other negative-sounding words, like sick, unwell, diseased, overcome, beaten, or defeated.

"Maori speakers will chuckle at the meaning," Gareth Seymour, who took the photo, told ten daily, adding that he was "bemused" by the mix-up.

"I think [the company] could have checked. Lots of companies use greetings -- usually they ask a Maori speaker or consult a dictionary."

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He told SBS that even a Maori-speaking school kid would notice the mistake.

"The moral of the story -- if you use it, there are ways of doing it right."

Contact the author: abrucesmith@networkten.com.au

Lead photo: Twitter