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Bilingual signs in time for festival

Ria Waerea web ready

“E Tū” . . . “halt!” “Haere Tonu” . . . “continue!” That's the message from Wairoa's Quality Roading (QRS) and Services courtesy of their shiny new bilingual signs.

The signs will be used for the first time this Saturday [21 April] at the Ngāti Kahungunu Kapa Haka Regional Competitions 2018 at Lambton Square, and it’s all thanks to QRS traffic safety worker Ria Waerea, Ngāti Rakaipaaka, Ngāti Kahungunu.

Ria spends a lot of hours on the end of stop/go signs, so she was stoked a while ago to see a version in te reo Māori. “My friend, an ambulance driver on the East Coast, sent me some photos of bilingual signs being used there and they looked awesome,” she says.

“With the number of Māori who live here in Wairoa (close to 60 percent) I thought that was something we could do to reflect our community.”

Knowing that change comes at a cost Ria was not sure her employer would agree, but says road maintenance manager Tony O'Sullivan jumped at the opportunity. “He just said 'go for it' so that was amazing.”

As well as liking the look of the signs, Tony wanted to reflect the QRS workforce which, he says, is around 70 percent Maori. “Plus there's a practical side to it,” he adds. “Because the signs are different they'll make people pay attention and that's the whole point.”

The new, reflective stop/go signs aren't a straight copy of the East Coast versions, which read “stop” and “go slow”. On the red side, QRS's shiny new signs say “Stop” and “E Tū” and on the green side they read “Go” and “Haere Tonu”.

And with Wairoa District Council right behind them, QRS plans to roll out use of the signs as soon as possible including this Saturday at the the Ngāti Kahungunu Kapa Haka Regional Competitions 2018. The New Zealand Transport Agency has not approved them for use on highways.

Though not fluent in te reo Māori, Ria Waerea says she loves to see the language used as part of everyday life. “It's important to reflect and celebrate who we are and, for many of us in this region, this is who we are.”

In creating QRS's new bilingual stop/go signs, traffic safety worker Ria and road maintenance manager Tony O'Sullivan called on the expertise of in-house Māori liaison Malcolm Tuahine.

14 May 2018

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