Jimah Ruland-Umata, from Rotorua, stunned Chinese stall workers at the Ōtara and Avondale markets with his “superb” Mandarin skills.
The 19-year-old Māori man surprised the Chinese workers when he asked for his fruit and vegetables in perfect Mandarin.
Footage shows Ruland-Umata ask: “are all these vegetables good?” to the surprise of the stall worker.
“Are you Chinese?” one of the market workers asks him.
“No, I’m Māori,” he replies.
He then explains he can speak Mandarin as well as the Beijing dialect, as he perfected his knowledge of the language at the Language University, in Beijing.
“You don’t look like you speak Mandarin, but you speak it better than I do,” the Chinese woman tells him.
“I can’t believe it, your Mandarin is superb,” another Chinese stall worker tells him.
Ruland-Umata, originally from Rotorua, says he became interested in learning Mandarin when a Chinese student joined his school – Rotorua Boys’ High School, and he didn’t want him to feel left out.
He went on to perfect his skills in the language in Beijing.
At one point, a Chinese man replies to his Mandarin with some Te Reo of his own, surprising Ruland-Umata by using Māori language to ask him some questions himself.
Ruland-Umata was last year recognised as a Youth Ambassador for New Zealand Chinese Language Week.
“The most interesting part of the Chinese culture is the stories behind different noodles. I love noodles and understanding their story behind certain noodles gave me a deeper appreciation for the Chinese culture,” he told organisers of an event in Parliament to mark the occasion.
The video, uploaded to YouTube by his friend Torrell Tafa, has been viewed more than 120,000 times in less than one week.