National | Kura

‘Kura/ School’ - bilingual traffic road signs proposed for schools

Waka Kotahi NZ is looking at using te reo Māori on traffic schools signs next year.

The transport agency has just announced proposed options for bilingual school traffic signs. Whakarewarewa kaiako Boxer Smith and Rawiri Waru, a member of Te Tatau o Te Arawa in Rotorua have been leading the charge in persuading Waka Kotahi to use te reo Māori in road signs.

“We of this school support the bilingual signage,” Smith said.

And Waru said he was excited there had been a shift to strengthening the Māori language.

Waka Kotahi has just been consulting publicly on setting safe speed limit rules, with one of the proposals to reduce speed rules around the schools to a default setting of 30km/ hr.

“So it is a really good opportunity for us to also incorporate te reo Māori into those school signs that will need to be put in anyway,” Waka Kotahi NZ director Kane Patena said.

‘Sense of racism’

Waru encouraged Waka Kotahi to review its traffic control device rules, which limit the inclusion of te reo Māori.

“I felt a sense of racism in their guidelines. This prompted me to speak out and this initiated discussions,” Waru said.

Patena said: “Yes, we have heard very loudly and clearly that people want to see te reo Māori across the land transport system traffic signs and we think it is a really cool thing to do and we know that we can do it without compromising safety.”

There are 19 countries around the world already using bilingual signage. Wales was chosen as a case study for Waka Kotahi NZ due to elements of similarity with Aotearoa New Zealand.

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency is consulting on the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices (Kura/School Signs) Amendment 2021 (proposed Rule) and the changes it would make to the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 (the TCD Rule).

The opportunity is to introduce bilingual school signs in conjunction with the proposed Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2021 (the proposed speed rule) that will see new school speed limits introduced from early 2022 that will require councils to set lower speed limits for 40 percent of their schools by June 30, 2024, and the remaining schools by December 31, 2029.

Consultation on the proposed changes to school traffic signs will close on December 17.