Teenage waitress Mia Griffiths opens up about racist abuse at James Hardie dinner

Mia Griffiths has opened up about the psychological toll of the racist abuse she endured at her waitressing job last week.

On August 19 the 17-year-old served a table of James Hardie senior leaders and their partners. One man, not an employee of the building materials company, mocked Mia's Māori heritage and said her "whānau" was probably "at home eating boil-up".

"I was very shocked and honestly ashamed a bit to be Māori, which sounds weird," she told The Project host Kanoa Lloyd. "I felt very attacked and defeated and I couldn't stop crying, and I'm not the kind of person to cry."

She says the worst part of the experience was witnessing the table's mob mentality as she was ridiculed. None of the other adults at the table stepped in to stop the man abusing her, and most seemed to be enjoying the spectacle.

"They were looking at the man, almost egging them on by their faces, like 'continue, keep going, keep going'. They didn't think anything was wrong, in fact they thought it was the funniest thing in the world. And he was looking at them for validation, like 'what else should I say?'"

Mia says being on the receiving end of racist comments is a uniquely painful experience.

"It's like you're ashamed to be you. You're ashamed to know your culture, to know your race. To wear your skin, despite the colour. You just feel absolutely defeated, and I hope nobody experiences anything like it."

All she wants is an apology from the man who made the remarks, which could happen soon - James Hardie has extended an invitation for Mia to meet with him. She told Newshub on Tuesday she "would have to think about that".

Despite the man's insistence that her family must be at home eating meat stew, Mia told Lloyd she's no fan of the classic dish. 

"Believe it or not, I don't actually like boil-up."