NZ to get Maori road signs by 2023, says minister

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Words: Matthew Hansen
1 Dec 2020

Labour Government Transport Minister Michael Wood says that bilingual road signs featuring te reo Maori will feature around the country by 2023.

Wood met with Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick late last week to discuss bilingual signage, following calls for a review to the country’s signs which are almost exclusively English.

“We've got rules that probably do need to change and evolve to recognise our aspirations to be a country that puts te reo at the heart of what we do,” Wood told Local Democracy Reporting.

“There's commitment from Government and commitment from our agencies, absolutely commitment from local government to be doing that.”

The move also comes after calls for more inclusive and representative road signs from Waiariki MP Rawiri Waititi, stating that the lack of te reo marked a lack of commitment to the language and to local culture.

"It's an awesome commitment,” Waititi said following Wood’s reveal. “We're moving into a transition where there are people in the transformative stage of their willingness to accept and give mana to tangata whenua and our language.”

There are some bilingual traffic signs dotted around New Zealand already, including one at the entrance to Hemo Gorge in Rotorua. Other benefits of more widespread usage of bilingual signs include the potential for new jobs to be created in making the change happen, affirmation of the country’s bilingual position, and the aid for local tourism.

Bilingual signs are relatively commonplace in other countries. Finland, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Greece, the UK, Canada, Hong Kong, and China are all among the countries to feature bilingual road signs in some capacity.


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