17 Aug 2017

Manager refuses bank slip written in te reo

5:33 pm on 17 August 2017

A school principal who filled out a bank withdrawal slip in te reo Māori was refused service at a bank in Whakatāne.

Cheque being signed

Cheque being signed Photo: 123RF

Ripeka Lessels said the bank manager at the Credit Union Central told her if she did not re-write her withdrawal slip in English he would not accept it.

She said this was blatantly racist.

"I said to him, no that's not necessary, I'm not going to write it in English because Māori is an official language of Aotearoa."

She took to social media and posted a video of her encounter which has since been viewed more than 30,000 times and has received hundreds of messages in response.

She said the manager did agree that Māori was an official language, but would still not accept it.

"This is the first time and the first bank in 30 years that has ever refused to take anything I've written in te reo Māori."

One woman who was disappointed by Ms Ripeka's story was Charlene Rewiri-Ulufonua, who last month gave Kiwibank in Whakatāne a cheque written in te reo Māori.

She said the cheque was a gift given to the kura where she works and was the first time she had ever given a bank something written in te reo.

Ripeka Lessels

Ripeka Lessels Photo: Supplied / Ripeka Lessels

"When I handed the bank teller the slip she got her manager to come over and asked if they could still process it and their response was yes.

"The bank manager thought it was great and said they would have to get someone to translate it but they had no issues at all."

Since the encounter Credit Union Central has made contact with Ms Lessels and apologised.

In a statement Credit Union Central said the attitude of the bank manager was unacceptable and did not align with their values.

It said the bank has always valued te reo Māori as an official language and is looking into ways to make sure an incident like this does not happen again.