Credit Union Central apologises after woman films confrontation over Te Reo

Credit Union Central apologises after woman films confrontation over Te Reo
Photo credit: YouTube

A bank has apologised to a woman who filmed a confrontation between herself and its manager, who told her he could not process her withdrawal slip because it was written in Te Reo.

Principal of Te Whata Tau Ō Pūtauaki school Ripeka Lessels has since laid a formal complaint against Credit Union Central, saying it's been a long time since she's heard "such blatant racism".

In footage Ms Lessels had covertly filmed on her cellphone at the branch in Kopeopeo, Whakatane, the manager can be heard saying: "If you want to deal with us, you deal with us in English."

When Ms Lessels claimed that ASB, Westpac, Kiwibank and BNZ had never refused withdrawal slips written in Te Reo, the manager dismissed her claim as "rubbish" and said "you don't have to bank with us".

Ms Lessels wrote on Facebook that racism is "alive and well at Credit Union", and will no longer be banking with them after saying she was discrimination based on her ethnicity.

"[I was] refused the right to choose an official language of NZ to access what was mine, my money," she told Newshub.

"Apart from being shocked that he would openly demand I write in English, he refuted my suggestions that Credit Union Central was the only bank that required only English to be used.

"I was also indignant that this should never happen again to any of my people."

Ms Lessels says there was a Māori bank teller present, so the defence that no one would be able to understand her withdrawal slip is not justified.

"The teller was Māori and could understand - I assume she was just following orders. It is quite sad that she was unable to even exercise her knowledge," she said.

Credit Union's operation manager Matthew Heke has since apologised to Ms Lessels, admitting the incident was not dealt with in the correct manner.

"[The teller] didn't really have a response that we were happy with," he told Māori Television.

"Most of us know that te reo Māori is an official language and can be used anywhere."