Topic: Te Reo Māori

Credit Union Central apologises for te reo incident

By Taroi Black

A school principal who filled out a bank withdrawal slip in Māori has been refused service at a bank in the Bay of Plenty township of Whakatāne. Ripeka Lessels has laid a formal complaint but since the incident yesterday, Credit Union Central admits they were wrong and have apologised.

The client, Ripeka Lessels, says, “The matter lies with him not wanting to acknowledge our language. That's what it is.”

Mrs Lessels says this was the first time she'd been refused service for presenting her bank slips in Māori. 

“BNZ accepts my cheques in Māori including Kiwibank, which has helped me numerous times and even ASB, ANZ. But this bank refuses to accept my slip written in Māori.”

Credit Union Central operation manager Matthew Heke admits they were wrong. 

“He didn't really have a response that we were happy with. Most of us know that te reo Māori is an official language and can be used anywhere.”

The incident came as a surprise to the Māori Language Commission, considering just last week we celebrated 30 years since Māori was declared an official language of NZ.

"I think there should be a policy put in place to allow te reo Māori to be used in banks," says Ngahiwi Apanui, the CE of the Māori Language Commission.

The audio recording has since gone viral on social media, prompting the public and Māori MP Marama Fox to have a say.  

“Our party has already spoken to Credit Union's bank manager in regards to the incident in which they said the Māori language is not part of their policy however I questioned them about this man’s behaviour.”