Building company James Hardie invites waitress to meet man who racially abused her

Building materials company James Hardie has invited waitress Mia Griffiths to meet the man who racially abused her.

The invitation was extended to the17-year-old on Monday night via The Project's Kanoa Lloyd. 

"Just before our show started we heard from a representative from James Hardie and they have extended an invitation to the Griffiths whānau, to Mia, to get together with the man who made those comments," Lloyd told the audience.

Initially, James Hardie refused to meet with the Griffiths family, although the company's CEO sent the restaurant a written apology.

The invitation comes a week after Mia was working at a restaurant on Auckland's Viaduct when a male customer made racist comments about her Māori heritage, as the people he sat with laughed.

The man was sitting at a table booked by James Hardie. 

"They were looking at the man almost egging him on by their facial expressions and that's what struck me, they didn't think anything was wrong," Mia told The Project on Monday.

"He was looking at them for validation."

Host Jeremy Corbett had a sage insight into the insidious nature of racism in New Zealand. 

"I think one of the problems is many of us know this guy, right?" he asked his co-hosts.

"Many of us know this guy who was racist to her and I guarantee you, the other people like him, watching that, did not recognise themselves, and I think that's the biggest problem," he continued.

"The people who are doing this do not realise what they're doing and we have got to somehow we have got to get that message through to those people."

The young waitress says the experience was humiliating, and she hopes no one else has to feel the way she felt.

"It's like you're ashamed to be you you're ashamed to know your culture, your race," she told The Project.

"You're ashamed to wear your skin. I hope nobody experiences anything like it."

Mia says all she wants is an apology from the man who humiliated her.