A conversation between two men has gone viral after the pair effortlessly switched between three languages in a display that “exemplifies love and respect”.
The exchange at Avondale Market in Auckland was captured two years ago by YouTuber Torrell Tafa and has gone viral after a clip was uploaded to social media.
The clip, posted by Learn Māori Abroad, shows Rotorua man Jimah Ruland-Umata sharing a chat with stallholder Tan Tee Seang.
The much-loved cookie seller, who has been a fixture at Auckland markets for years, asks Ruland-Umata where he is from, speaking in English.
The Rotorua man asks if Tee Seang is from New Zealand and the Malaysian-Chinese expat deftly replies: “I’m in New Zealand”.
On discovering that Ruland-Umata is Māori, Tee Seang switches seamlessly to te reo.
They discuss Tee Seang’s Malay language before Ruland-Umata begins speaking in Mandarin, revealing he learned to speak while studying in Beijing.
Tee Seang replies in kind, the two polyglots clearly charmed by each other’s abilities.
They then return to te reo, sharing a laugh as they discuss the chilly weather.
The clip prompted a flood of supportive messages online, as Kiwis reacted warmly to Tee Seang’s embrace of te reo Māori and Ruland-Umata’s fluent Mandarin.
It was pointed out that Tee Seang’s ability to speak Malay gave him a headstart on learning te reo, as both languages belong to the same wider language family.
Malay and te reo Māori share many similarities, such as the word for fish, which is ika in te reo and ikan in Malay and numbers such as two (rua/dua) and five (rima/lima).
“This has given me hope for our future in Aotearoa,” one person wrote.
“This kind of love and respect for each other’s languages exemplifies love and respect for each other. The way it should be,” another said.
The Learn Māori Abroad account wrote that it was “so awesome seeing these two tāne connect through kōrero i te reo Māori and Mandarin.”
“How awesome is it to see tauiwi embracing our reo?” they added.
One commenter said the clip was “an example of what is possible if we open our hearts and minds to the endless possibilities for human connection in our everyday lives.”