A Whakatane man has cancelled his family's trip to Hastings after a motel owner asked him if he intended to cook curry during his stay.
The man, who didn't want to be identified, is Indian and has lived in New Zealand since 2008. He called the Gloucester House Motel on Wednesday morning to ask about booking a room for four people next weekend.
He spoke to owner Brian Golding, who began telling him about the motel's cooking facilities - and then asked him if he was going to make curry while he was there.
"I was like 'Bloody hell mate, are you joking?'" the man told Newshub. "But he kept going, talking about how the smell of curry lingers for days."
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When he voiced his anger, Mr Golding told him it was official motel policy. He asked where that policy was listed on the motel website, and says Mr Golding hung up on him shortly afterwards.
The man believes he was only asked about curry because of his accent, which he called "just nonsense", and says his family had no intention of cooking anything at all while they were away.
"I really wanted to say 'We're paying for it, don't spoil someone's holiday'."
But spoil the holiday it did. The man says not only will his family not be staying at Gloucester House Motel, they won't be going to Hastings at all.
"We literally cancelled the whole holiday. It's a shame because it's the only place my family haven't been to, but I was just like 'No way'."
He says it was not only inappropriate to assume a guest's culinary habits based on their accent, but "bloody racist".
"New Zealand is not a culture of racism," he says.
"I can't change someone's attitude or behaviour. If he's done it with me, he's done it with other people who might not understand it's not okay."
Fiona Golding owns Gloucester House Motel with her husband. She told Newshub it wasn't the man's accent that prompted her husband to mention curry, but rather a recent incident that means the issue was "fresh in his mind".
"We had a guest [cook curry] and we couldn't rent out their room for a week. It costs us a lot of money."
She says the motel has an official policy that guests can't cook spicy food in their rooms because of the risk of a lingering smell, and says there are signs around the motel advising them so.
Two of the bedroom suites include full cooking facilities, and there are "partial facilities" in the studio suite, according to the motel website.
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Golding understands why the man was upset by the phone call, but denies her husband was being racist by asking the question.
"I know my husband well - he's not like that. I told him it's not very nice to say that."
She says she's sorry for the misunderstanding, and is eager to apologise to the man in person or over the phone.
"I hope he understands that it wasn't his accent."