'Absolutely terrible' - The Warehouse apologises for misspelling Māori words

By Tamara Poi-Ngawhika
Public Interest journalism funded through NZ On Air

By, Tamara Poi, Te Rito Journalism cadet

The Warehouse Group has apologised for releasing a poster of a map of Aotearoa with many misspelled Māori names including Rotorua (spelled Roturua), Wairoa, (spelled Weiroa) and Paraparaumu (spelled Paraparaumo).

And a Māori staff member at The Warehouse Group expressed disappointment that the company did not act sooner to rectify their mistake.   

Other misspelt place names were, Tongariro (spelt Tongario), Taupō (spelt Taupo)  and Whanganui (spelt Wanganui). 

  

A spokesperson for The Warehouse Group told teaomaori.news that the error occurred because the company's teams have been working remotely and that packaging and products that include te reo Māori are normally translated or reviewed by an accredited translator before being sold to the public. The products have since been taken off the shelves.   

"Since we were made aware of this mistake and removed this item from sale, we’ve been developing a training module for our merchandise and sourcing teams on what must be checked and why from reo and tikanga perspectives," the spokesperson said.  

“We apologise to our customers for the incorrect spelling of place names in Aotearoa used in this map.” 

Many consumers took to The Warehouse website to express their disappointment with the company.   

 “Absolutely terrible. How hard is it to check the spelling before you print,” said a customer with the username Bob27. 

A Māori worker within The Warehouse Group who didn’t want to be named, posted on an internal company page to inform management. The worker says The Warehouse Group didn’t rectify the issue immediately but is happy the employer eventually took it seriously.   

“What I do know is, although they are still for sale, so it looks like nothing has been done by this, there has been movement in the background,” the staff told Māori Television at the time.   

“It definitely is an important kaupapa and I am proud to say The Warehouse Group is amending its mistake.”  

Te reo Māori columnist and exponent Stacey Morrison says someone with even the basic knowledge of te reo Māori should have noticed the errors. She applauds The Warehouse Group for owning up to its mistake and apologising.  

“What I do appreciate is The Warehouse has made an apology. That’s a good example of how companies can respond in a way that actually shows they have respect for te reo Māori.”  

Morrison hopes The Warehouse Group will continue to consult Mātanga reo (language experts) whenever they have products and services that incorporate tikanga or te reo Māori to avoid a mistake like this happening again.  

“There’s safety and value for everybody if they get experts involved. It’s really good when they listen and they admit and say it wasn’t very well done. I have respect for that.”

The Warehouse Group has offered a full refund to customers who want to return their products with misspelled Māori words.