Consultation open on English/te reo Māori road signs

Mon, May 29
A potential bilingual road sign

Consultation is currently underway to make road signs in Aotearoa bilingual.

Waka Kotahi – the transport agency – is working with language revitalisation entity Te Mātāwai in the hope of normalising te reo Māori on NZ’s roads.

"It reflects part of New Zealand’s history, our culture and language," said Kane Patena of Waka Kotahi.

The project is an extension of the kura school signs introduced last year, with more than 90 designs released last week for public consultation.

"They include expressway and motorway signs, they include destination signs, warning signs – so there is quite a wide range of traffic signs we are proposing changes to."

Bilingual signage is already common in countries like Wales, Ireland and Scotland.

Language experts in New Zealand hope it will normalise te reo.

"For Aotearoa, it's very very valuable to revitalisation efforts of Māori communities, also for general New Zealanders who are trying to learn Māori," Reikura Kahi said.

The roll out of the signs will be a gradual process – bilingual signs will be installed when existing ones need replacing.

The transport agency said it’s done considerable research around safety.

A possible bilingual road signs

"Being familiar with the shape, the colour, the symbols and the words is a really important safety tool that we need to make sure we maintain," said the AA’s Simon Douglas.

National, however, said the signs are “confusing” and would not be a priority if it wins the election.

"We need to make sure the NZTA is focussed on building and maintaining our roading infrastructure and having safe road signage that people can understand, that's got to be the number one priority," transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said.

Consultation is open for the next five weeks.


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