A McDonald's worker in Hamilton was told by management not to speak te reo Māori at work.
Janine Eru-Taueki was looking forward to celebrating te wiki o te reo Māori, but was told on Thursday not to speak the language due to complaints from customers and staff.
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The 19-year-old told Māori Television's Te Kāea she was "angry then sad".
"This is the first time I've been told by anyone that I can't speak Māori. This is Māori Language Week, but to us students...speaking Māori is normal. I speak Māori all the time," she said.
Ms Eru-Taueki said her manager told her speaking te reo Māori could be considered rude by customers.
"I don't agree because Māori is an official language of this country," she told Te Kāea, adding that sometimes customers ask if they can order in Māori.
McDonald's New Zealand said in a statement staff can talk with customers in other languages "as required".
"Across New Zealand McDonald's employs people from a diverse range of backgrounds. English is used as a common language amongst staff to ensure clear communication, and provide an inclusive environment.
"In this case it sounds like there has been a misunderstanding, as we didn't have any complaints from customers regarding Janine. However, it has raised the issue of our policy and staff speaking Māori. We're following up with Janine to understand her perspective and build into plans for future policy and Māori language week activities."