Chadwick hears positive sign language
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.’’