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Coca-Cola Amatil refutes 'Kia ora, mate' language gaffe

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Coca-Cola Amatil has responded to social media backlash over a language gaffe on vending machines in New Zealand.

Coca-Cola Amatil is 29%-owned by The Coca-Cola Co

Coca-Cola Amatil is 29%-owned by The Coca-Cola Co

An image on Twitter this month showed a Coca-Cola vending machine with the words 'Kia Ora, mate'. The message mixes te reo Maori - the language of the country's indigenous people - and English. While 'Kia ora' is a common Maori greeting, 'mate' in the language means 'death'.

However, Neil Waka, corporate affairs manager at Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand, told just-drinks yesterday that "in no way" was the term 'mate' in reference to any Maori word. "That would have been inappropriate and unacceptable," he said.

just-drinks understands that the greeting is on three old vending machines at Auckland International Airport. The vending machines are in the process of being changed.

"The Kia Ora is in obvious reference to our New Zealand heritage through our indigenous Maori language, and the term 'mate' is a commonly used English phrase for friend. The two words were only meant to bring Maori and English together, nothing more," said Waka. "Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand is proudly Kiwi and respects and embraces all aspects of Maori culture and any other culture. Our diversity and inclusivity values are incredibly important to us as a business and as a people and we work hard to ensure our people feel comfortable to bring their whole selves to work no matter their culture, beliefs or preferences."

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