A recent change to a land transport rule will see bilingual school traffic signs eventually put up at over 2000 schools across Aotearoa.
The Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices (Kura/School Signs) Amendment 2022 came into force on April 5 2022.
It sees both the te reo Māori word for school - kura - and the English word featured on the signs.
Waka Kotahi NZTA said the kura/school signs would be used when existing signs needed to be replaced or new signs were put up.
All English-only school signs will remain legal traffic signs until they are replaced.
Hohepa Campbell, CEO of Te Rūnanga Nui o Ngā Kura Kaupapa Māori o Aotearoa, welcomed the change. He also recognised the work of the late Hawea Vercoe, who originally advocated for te reo Māori signs on school buses.
“I acknowledge him as well as those who assisted He Waka Kotahi to recognise our language,” Campbell told Te Karere.
“We’ve waited 35 years to see these bilingual signs to uphold our native language.”
Waka Kotahi NZTA have worked closely with Te Mātāwai, an independent Māori language advocacy agency, to bring this project to life.
Kane Patena, Waka Kotahi's director of land transport, said the change represented a “significant opportunity to increase New Zealanders exposure to te reo Māori”.
“Waka Kotahi and Te Mātāwai will continue to investigate other bilingual or te reo Māori only traffic signs which can be enabled across the motu as part of the He Tohu Huarahi Māori bilingual traffic signs programme,” Patena said.
“Bilingual signs have been used on the network for some time, but the rule change will help with more consistent and safe use across Aotearoa New Zealand.”
The new kura/school signs will be launched in Napier on May 2 2022.