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NZ Transport Agency ban roadside signs in te reo

BENN BATHGATE/STUFF

Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick at the 2017 launch of Rotorua as New Zealand’s first bilingual city, standing in front of the signage that was proposed to welcome people to the city. Plans to welcome visitors to Rotorua in te reo have hit a major bump in the road after the NZ Transport Agency ruled warning signs had to be in English. Rotorua Lakes Council had proposed signage at road entrances to the city with ‘Haere Mai Ki Rotorua’, also declaring in English ‘NZ’s first bilingual city.’

But the agency told the council that under the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 the sign had to be written in English. “Schedule 1 provides for all regulatory and warning signs to be in English. As you can see the only wording acceptable on these signs is ‘Welcome to [locality].”

READ MORE:
* Rotorua to become first bilingual NZ city
* Otaki in the running to be New Zealand’s first officially bilingual town
* Community board support more bilingual signs in district
* Long road to becoming bilingual[1][2][3][4]
News of the te reo roadblock has stunned those backing the bilingual push, including Associate Transport and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones.

NZ Transport Agency ban roadside signs in te reoHAGEN HOPKINS/GETTY IMAGES

Associate Transport and Regional Development Minister Shane Jones is going to take up the issue with NZTA’s chair Dame Fran Wilde. “It seems really odd.

Rotorua after all is a cultural destination and there is no culture without the Maori in Rotorua,” Jones said. Jones planned to take the matter up with NZTA chair Dame Fran Wilde and “alert her to this strange situation”. “If they can’t have te reo, do they want the Rotorua Maori to take up finger language and I don’t mean sign language by that either.”

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick was more combative in her take on the situation.

NZ Transport Agency ban roadside signs in te reoCHRISTEL YARDLEY/STUFF

Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick is going to fight for Te Reo on the road signs. “We’re going to challenge that, change the rules. I’m going to fight it,” she said.

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“It’s very sad that you can only say ‘Welcome to Rotorua’, this may be the first challenge to demonstrate te reo is an official language.”

The te reo sign prohibition also baffled former Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell.

NZ Transport Agency ban roadside signs in te reoKEVIN STENT/STUFF

Former Maori Development Minister Te Ururoa Flavell, said he will back any moves to have bilingual signs in his home town- Rotorua. Flavell was central to the 2017 push to make Rotorua bilingual, and was also unaware of the NZTA regulation. He promised to back moves to get the rules changed.

“This should go to the various Ministries. This has implications everywhere,” Flavell said. Te Arawa kaumatua Dr Ken Kennedy also expressed shock at the road sign revelation.

“My view is we really need to talk to the NZTA. They need to change their thinking on that,” Kennedy said. “The Government recognises Te Reo as an official language, but the NZTA doesn’t?”

Te Taru White, chair of the Te Tatau o Te Arawa board and another driving force behind the bilingual push, said he was equally surprised, but optimistic. “I find it hard to believe,” White said. “I think it’s challengeable though, in keeping with te reo as a recognised language.

It’s a speed bump, but it won’t stop us.” White believed strong support for change would come from Labour’s Maori caucus and Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern. “You can expect us to be part of the change.

When you say you can’t have words other than English, I can’t see the rationale.”

His optimism may be well founded as an NZTA spokesperson has indicated a possible gear change on the language issue.

“The NZ Transport Agency is happy to work with local councils to safely incorporate bilingual road signage, and we’re keen to help Rotorua District Council to develop an entrance sign which fits in with their work to promote Rotorua as a bilingual city, while still functioning as an effective traffic safety device.”

– Sunday Star Times

References

  1. ^ Rotorua to become first bilingual NZ city (www.stuff.co.nz)
  2. ^ Otaki in the running to be New Zealand’s first officially bilingual town (www.stuff.co.nz)
  3. ^ Community board support more bilingual signs in district (www.stuff.co.nz)
  4. ^ Long road to becoming bilingual (www.stuff.co.nz)
  5. ^ Ad Feedback (stuff.co.nz)



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