Coke's embarrassing vending machine gaffe

Michelle Cheng

Coke has made an embarrassing gaffe on a vending machine, spotted by an eagle-eyed passerby.

New Zealand man Gareth Seymour was at the airport when he spied the unusual signage, which mixed English and Māori, with an unintended meaning.

“I was walking through Auckland Airport a few weeks ago,” New Zealand man Gareth Seymour told Yahoo7.

“The writing on the vending machine caught my eye, it said, ‘kia ora mate,’ which in Māori means ‘hello death’ or ‘hello dead’.

“So that was the interpretation that I took of it, being a Māori speaker.

“I had a little chuckle to myself and took a photo of it and then, couple of weeks later put it up on Twitter.”

The vending machine effectively said 'welcome death' in Māori
The vending machine effectively said ‘welcome death’ in Māori. Source: Twitter/Waikato Reo

Mr Seymour posted the photograph on Twitter on October 13, commenting that Coke gave an unexpected message by mixing English and Māori.

In Māori, the word ‘mate’ is pronounced ‘ma-tay’ and means ‘death’ or ‘dead’. Mr Reo’s Tweet has received over 1,000 likes.

“When I took a step back I thought, oh that’s a bit of a faux pas,” Mr Reo said.

“On the one hand I think, good on them for trying.

“But on the other hand I say, take a couple of moments to do a check, have a look at the Māori dictionary, ask a Māori speaker, how does this look, if you’re using Māori language.”

Coke made a linguistic blunder on a vending machine
Coke made a linguistic blunder on a vending machine. Source: Getty (file pic)

Social media users have had mixed reactions, with some getting in on the joke.

“Shouldn’t it have said ‘Kia Ora, Bro’?” one Twitter user said.

“Maybe perfect for encouraging people to reduce their sugar intake, though?” another wrote.

Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand said that phrase was not meant to cause offence and simply intended to blend two languages.

“The Kia Ora is in obvious reference to our New Zealand heritage through our indigenous Māori language, and the term ‘mate’ is a commonly used English phrase for friend,” Neil Waka, Corporate Affairs Manager, Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand told Yahoo7.

“The two words were only meant to bring Māori and English together, nothing more.

“In no way was the term ‘mate’ in reference to any Māori word.

“That would have been inappropriate and unacceptable.

“Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand is proudly Kiwi and respects and embraces all aspects of Māori culture and any other culture.”

In more vending machine shenanigans, an upmarket US department store has installed a meat vending machine.