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1-min read

Coca Cola 'Summons Death' by Vending Machine in Maori Misfire

Te reo Maori, the native tongue of New Zealand's Polynesian population, the Maori, who constitute the second-largest ethnic community on the island after the European New Zealanders, has been witnessing quite the revival of late.

Shantanu David | News18.com

Updated:October 15, 2018, 6:23 PM IST
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Coca Cola 'Summons Death' by Vending Machine in Maori Misfire
(Image: Twitter)

In its 130 year-long history, Coca-Cola has had many a slogan, from 1905's "Coca-Cola revives and sustains" to 1976's "Coke adds life" to the most recent "Open Happiness". So when the company tried to connect with New Zealand's indigenous Maori community, maybe they should have stuck to one of the classics. Instead, they welcomed Death, and that too in a most cavalier fashion.

Te reo Maori, the native tongue of New Zealand's Polynesian population, the Maori, who constitute the second-largest ethnic community on the island after the European New Zealanders, has been witnessing quite the revival of late. Films such as Disney's blockbuster animation Moana, and celebrities like Dwayne "the Rock" Johnson who is of Samoan heritage, have bolstered the world's interest in all things Polynesian.

And since the customer is always right, global conglomerates have followed suit, with Google rolling out a Maori version of its website, as well as popular service Google Maps, and Disney planning to dub more of its films in the language following the success of Moana on the island.

Coke's first dip into this lucrative pool then, is most unfortunate. Attempting to marry New Zealand's two main languages of English and Maori, the beverage brand stocked its signature product in a vending machine emblazoned with the legend, "Kia ora, Mate". Mate is, of course, a colloquial Australian/New Zealand English term of affection, while Kia Ora is the Maori term for 'hello'. Alas then, Mate means death in te reo Maori. So a Maori speaker reading said slogan will read "Hello, Death."

Then again, given that the soft drink is mostly sugar and sugar is the super (un)healthy additive it is, perhaps this is merely a case of accurate advertising. Then again, probably not.

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