Gareth Seymour was passing through Auckland International Airport when he noticed something off about a vending machine.
"I read with Māori language eyes and thought, "They haven't had this checked by a Māori," he told NITV News.
The Coca-Cola Amatil vending machine boasts the slogan 'Kia ora, Mate', but while Kia ora is a common greeting in New Zealand - or Aotearoa - 'mate' in te reo Māori means 'death'.
Mr Seymour said a more appropriate slogan would be 'Kia ora e hoa', which translates to 'hello friend'.
Since posting the photo on Twitter and Facebook, community response has been swift.
One user commented on the irony of the message being attached to a vending machine for sugary drinks: "it does mean death for a lot of Indigenous people".
According to locals the vending machines have been around all year, and while the majority of the responses have mocked the poor marketing strategy, some people commented that switching between languages comes naturally and in that context the message made perfect sense.
Mr Seymour said more corporate companies are starting to adopt te reo Māori, reinforcing the need to get it checked.
"Even a Māori-speaking school kid would notice the mistake. The moral of story is - if you use it there are ways of doing it right," he said.
Mr Seymour said one example of 'getting it right' was an app developed through a Google collaboration with New Zealand telco Spark for Māori Language Week.
The app, called ‘Kupu’, uses photo recognition technology to translate an image into its 'te reo' word. For instance, if you took a photo of kiwi fruits the app would offer you the word 'huakiwi'.
In a statement to NITV News, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ said the two words were "only meant to bring Maori and English together".
"In no way was the ‘mate’ in reference to any Maori word, that would have been inappropriate and unacceptable," the statement said.
"Coca-Cola Amatil New Zealand is proudly Kiwi and respects and embraces all aspects of Maori culture and any other culture."
The company did not respond to questions about whether it had consulted with the Māori community on the design of the slogan.