Chadwick hears pos­i­tive sign lan­guage

Rotorua Review - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - BENN BATHGATE

Plans for a bilin­gual wel­come to Ro­torua road sign may pro­ceed af­ter the New Zealand Trans­port Agency said it was will­ing to work with Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil on the is­sue.

Plans for the sig­nage, part of a push to es­tab­lish Ro­torua as New Zealand’s first of­fi­cial bilin­gual city, had hit a road­block af­ter the NZTA cited rules that re­quired signs to be in English.

How­ever, Ro­torua Mayor Steve Chadwick said talks with NZTA chair Dame Fran Wilde had been pos­i­tive.

‘‘I’m con­fi­dent there is a so­lu­tion,’’ Chadwick said.

‘‘Coun­cil has a con­struc­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship with NZTA and we will keep work­ing on this, we’ll get there. This will set the prece­dent for other places so it needs to be done prop­erly and we need to get it right.’’

NZTA di­rec­tor of safety and en­vi­ron­ment, Harry Wil­son, said the agency was open to ex­plor­ing op­tions for the te reo sig­nage.

‘‘We are work­ing with lo­cal coun­cils to in­cor­po­rate bilin­gual road sig­nage which achiev­ing safety out­comes,’’ he said.

‘‘While the cur­rent traf­fic reg­u­la­tions wouldn’t per­mit the com­bined speed limit/wel­come sign pro­posed for Ro­torua in its cur­rent form, we are work­ing with Ro­torua Lakes Coun­cil to de­velop and trial a bilin­gual en­trance sign which will help to pro­mote Ro­torua as a bilin­gual city.

‘‘The bilin­gual speed limit gate­way sign for­mat could then be in­cor­po­rated into traf­fic reg­u­la­tions to be­come a stan­dard op­tion for other coun­cils to adopt.’’

News of the pos­si­ble so­lu­tion has also been wel­comed by Ro­torua based MPs.

Wa­iariki Labour MP Ta­mati Cof­fey said he be­lieved there has been con­fu­sion around the sig­nage that was ini­tially pro­posed but be­lieved it was ‘‘only a mat­ter of time be­fore it hap­pens’’.

He also said the is­sue could be­gin a na­tional con­ver­sa­tion on the is­sue and the wider ac­cep­tance of te reo in New Zealand, and a pos­si­ble chal­lenge for other com­mu­ni­ties too.

‘‘How many other towns and cities are pro­gres­sive enough to hit their coun­cils up?’’ he said.

Ro­torua-based New Zealand First list MP Fletcher Tabuteau also backed the bilin­gual push.

‘‘This is a big turn­around from ear­lier when the NZTA ap­plied the Land Trans­port Rules as mean­ing all road signs must be writ­ten in English ex­clu­sively,’’ he said.

‘‘I think this is a great thing, it shows we stand proud as a bi­cul­tural city.’’

Ro­torua MP Todd McClay said as long as they were safe, he backed the signs.

‘‘They of­fer us the chance to fur­ther demon­strate Ro­torua’s unique­ness and show we are a warm and wel­com­ing city to do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors alike.’’

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