A McDonald's store has become the unlikely platform for Maori language revival after a video of a woman ordering in te reo, and being responded to in kind, went viral.

Hastings McDonald's worker Jershon Tatana, 17, surprised the group of Maori-language enthusiasts when he spoke their language back to them.

The video, taken by language advocate Jeremy Tatere McLeod, has more than 90,000 views.

McLeod had organised a breakfast at McDonald's for te reo speakers in an effort to normalise Maori language. Holding regular social events was one of the goals of the Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc symposium.

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McLeod said they had phoned ahead and told McDonald's they were coming but didn't expect them to have staff who knew te reo.

The video, taken by language advocate Jeremy Tatere McLeod, has over 70,000 views. Photo / Supplied
The video, taken by language advocate Jeremy Tatere McLeod, has over 70,000 views. Photo / Supplied

"He started speaking back - we were absolutely blown away. We were very pleasantly surprised."

The next social outing will be tenpin bowling. McLeod said the new environment forces them to learn and create new words.

Fluent te reo speaker Jershon Tatana at his school ball with his date. Photo / Supplied
Fluent te reo speaker Jershon Tatana at his school ball with his date. Photo / Supplied

"We need to make the language relevant to our children. If they don't see any relevance why would they bother learning it?

"He [Tatana] is an outstanding role model for young people and the future of our language rests with his generation."

Tatana wasn't able to speak to the Herald as he's in the midst of a serious basketball regional tournament, but his mum Learna Karena said he was overwhelmed with the attention and passionate about the Maori language.

Neither Karena or Tatana's dad were fluent in te reo but Tatana was in Maori immersion learning for his early childhood and primary school years. He now goes to St Johns College and does one hour of Maori language a week.

"I just love kohanga and kura. They often have small classes and teachers are more like aunties and uncles, they teach values and teach children how to study.

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"It comes natural to him. He can think in Maori and English.

"When he had 20 people coming up to him to order their kai he didn't have to think."

McLeod started learning te reo 12 years ago when he moved back from Australia aged 17. He is now doing his PhD on the dialectical variations of the Maori language.

His two sons have grown up speaking Maori. McLeod said they are the first native speakers in six generations.

"Learning Maori has given me my identity. It's connected me to my culture. And being bilingual is really cool.

"The tide is turning slowly but surely. I'm committed to being part of that revolution."

Order up

To order a Big Mac and fries in te reo, try this:

He Big Mac me nga riwai parai maku? (Can I have a Big Mac and fries please?)