A woman greeting a Tauranga crowd in Te Reo Māori was told to "speak English" and jeered as she tried to continue.
Kim Williams was addressing about 300 people at the launch of the Tauranga Ratepayers Alliance at Mount Maunganui. She told the Bay of Plenty Times she had spoken mostly in English and only about "six words" in Te Reo Māori when the crowd began to yell at her.
They shouted they "didn't want to hear that" and that Williams should "get off the stage".
"All I wanted to do when I got off that stage was walk straight out the door."
Discussing the incident brought her to tears.
After the incident, MC Peter Williams reprimanded the audience, saying their reaction was, in his view, "exceedingly rude" — later telling the Bay of Plenty Times it was "awful, embarrassing and shameful".
The Ratepayers Alliance, backed by the Taxpayers Union, is a new group which aims to hold the Tauranga City Council accountable.
Tauranga MP Simon Bridges was the keynote speaker of the event.
"It was a generally constructive meeting but what happened regarding Kim was unacceptable," he told the Bay of Plenty Times.