Real estate agent Linh Yee who put on fake Asian accent to sell houses warned by employer Ray White

By  Lucy Xia of RNZ

A high profile Auckland real estate agent has been given a formal warning by her employer after posting a TikTok video of herself giving a sales pitch using a fake Asian accent.

The award-winning Ray White real estate agent Linh Yee, who is of Asian descent, also said in the video that she will do cleaning and cooking for potential buyers.

The video circulated for more than a week before it was removed, following a complaint.

While Yee spoke fluently in an official video promoting a Sandringham house, she took on a different persona in a TikTok video marketing the same property, where she called herself "Lingling" and affected an Asian accent.

The video showed Yee walking through the property, offering to do a range of household chores for potential buyers - including sweeping the deck, and crouching down to clean the floor.

"You pay me good price, I also get dirty for you, see - I clean," she said.

She also wandered to the kitchen and said: "And when I sell your home good price, I also make you good dinner, see, peanut butter jelly, I make for you".

The video ended with the agent saying "love you long time" - a line from the movie Full Metal Jacket in which a Vietnamese sex worker solicited American soldiers.

An Auckland woman who complained to Ray White said she felt deeply offended by the video.

"I feel like what she was doing really proliferates stereotypes against South-east Asian women, and as someone who is of Asian descent, it was just really disappointing and sad to see," she said.

The woman - who did not want to be named - said it normalised racism.

"This is leading to more acceptance and apathy on normalising racism in our society, and it is quite disappointing to see that Ray White doesn't really have any formal procedures and policies for their real estate agents, to basically be posting anything they want in social media," she said.

She said she felt there was a wider issue of racism in New Zealand, and that it was a "dark underbelly of our culture" that was not being talked about enough.

Yee would not do a recorded audio interview, but told RNZ she had no idea how much the video would offend people.

"I'm so embarrassed about what's really going on, I'm still letting it sort of absorb in, I really, really didn't even have any idea how much this is actually gonna offend people, when all I was doing was mocking and teasing myself," she said.

She said on reflection she realised speaking English with a fake Asian accent was wrong and had taken down the video.

"My intention was never to cause harm or discomfort to anyone, but rather to share a light-hearted moment of self-expression and humour. However, I now understand that my actions were culturally insensitive and perpetuated harmful stereotypes," she said.

Linh Yee said she was "truly sorry".

"Moving forward, I am committed to educating myself and being more mindful of the impact of my words and actions. I understand that words alone cannot undo the hurt caused, but I hope to demonstrate through my future behaviour a genuine commitment to learning and growth," she said.

Ray White Epsom director Nick Lyus said Yee has been given a formal warning about the video, which was taken down as soon as the company was made aware of it.

He said the company was committed to giving all its employees cultural sensitivity and anti-discrimination training.

Ray White said it did not vet all its staff's social media posts, but did monitor them regularly.