Wairoa District Council is on course to become the first local council in New Zealand to implement a Te Reo Māori Policy.
The policy is another stepping stone towards becoming the country's first bilingual town, after the launch of Te Wairoa Reorua 2040 on December 10, 2012.
Te Wairoa Reorua 2040 is the vision of four organisations in this district, Te Kura Motuhake o Te Ataarangi, Nga Kohanga Reo o te rohe o Te Wairoa, Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa and Te Taiwhenua o Te Wairoa.
They have come together, with the Human Rights Commission, to work on a strategy to set Wairoa on the path to becoming fully bilingual by 2040.
The Te Reo Māori policy, which is designed to develop and promote te reo Māori throughout the organisation, will be tabled at Council's meeting on the 9th of May.
Council's Māori Standing Committee Chair Kiwa Hammond says the policy is designed to foster positive attitudes and values about te reo Māori among staff so that the use of it becomes a valued part of the organisation.
"Wairoa has arguably led the bilingual town conversation over the past five years and continues to lead in terms of local government policy development," Mr Hammond says
"The passing of the Māori Language Act 2016 underlines the responsibility of the Crown and government agencies to support and promote the proper use of te reo Māori.
"This policy signifies the Wairoa District Council's commitment to the language and acknowledges the important status of te reo Māori in our community.
"With a population of almost 60 per cent Māori, and a sizeable Māori-speaking population that is well above the national average, it makes sense that Wairoa lead the way with this policy.
“We support any initiative that promotes the use of the Māori language. Our proposed Te Reo Māori Policy will enable our district to further the support the Te Wairoa Reorua 2040/bilingual Wairoa initiative.
"I applaud any other district that promotes the use of te reo Māori. This isn't a competition, because at the end of the day, the real winner is te reo Māori."
One of the Maori Standing Committee's objectives is to empower staff to use te reo Māori by providing access to tools and resources.
Wairoa District Council signs, where it is appropriate to do so, will gradually become bilingual (as resources permit).
The order will be in Māori first and English second. Bilingual signage will be supported by a robust translation and quality assurance review process.
Wairoa Mayor Craig Little congratulated the Māori Standing Committee for having proactive discussions and developing the Te Reo Māori Policy for the Wairoa District Council and the Wairoa community.
"We look forward to receiving the policy at the Council meeting next Tuesday," he said.
31 October 2018
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