New bilingual school sign unveiled in Rotorua

File Photo.

Minister of Transport Michael Wood and Te Mātāwai Board Co-Chair Reikura Kahi today unveiled one of the first bilingual kura/school traffic signs in Rotorua produced since a new land transport rule was passed. 

The signs were unveiled at Whangamarino School at Ōkere Falls on State Highway 33.

“Te Mātāwai has partnered with Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency to deliver this mahi. The crown vision of revitalising te reo Māori by enabling it to be seen, spoken and heard wherever possible and the Te Mātāwai vision of having the Māori language restored as a nurturing first language are closely aligned,” Michael Wood said.

Te Mātāwai Board Co-Chair Reikura Kahi said she and fellow partnership rōpū member Mātai Smith have maintained their focus on ensuring iwi Māori views are heard and acted on so that iwi and Māori identity is enhanced at the local level.

“I’d like to make a special acknowledgment to how appropriate it was to celebrate this event in Rotorua, after the significant and sustained efforts of Te Tatau o Te Arawa and their Rotorua Reorua - Bilingual city movement, Reikura Kahi said.

The design of the Kura/School signs was released for public consultation late last year. As a result, the change to the land transport rule came into force on 5 April 2022 enabling bilingual school traffic signs.

This rule change will help with more consistent and safe use across Aotearoa New Zealand. The signs will replace English-only signs. They will be put in the ground as new safety work is carried out at schools, or as old signs need to be replaced. 

“With more than 2500 schools in New Zealand, this represents a significant opportunity to contributing to recognising te reo Māori as one of the official languages of Aotearoa New Zealand and to increase New Zealanders’ exposure to te reo Māori through traffic signs,” said Mr Wood.

“I wish to acknowledge the passionate advocates for te reo Māori in Rotorua. They have been calling on us to affirm the place of te reo Māori for many years and, while we acknowledge it has taken some time, I am pleased that we now have a partnership and process in place to move towards enabling more bilingual traffic signs in Aotearoa New Zealand,” said Michael Wood.

The introduction of the new rule is part of the He Tohu Huarahi Māori bilingual traffic signs programme led by Te Mātāwai and Waka Kotahi which will see more bilingual signs enabled across the motu. 

Waka Kotahi is currently improving safety along SH33, as part of the Road to Zero programme. Safety improvements include a shared path and four pedestrian islands, making it safer for tamariki to walk, bike or scooter to school.

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