Hauraki District Council customers might notice a change in the way they’re greeted during Maori Language Week.
“To celebrate and acknowledge Te Wiki o te Reo Maori we’ve set a goal to encourage and grow our te reo skills, not just during Maori Language week, but on an ongoing basis,” says Chief Executive Langley Cavers.
From this week, public toilet sings at Ohinemuri Park, Karangahake Reserve, Ngatea Main Street and Waihi’s Victoria Park, will sport bilingual headings.
Over time this will be extended to other Council signs throughout the district. Email signatures will also be changed to include te reo job titles, and staff will be encouraged and supported to practice speaking te reo with each other and with customers where they can.
“For some of us this will be a bit of a learning curve so we ask our customers to please bear with us and support us in our efforts,” says Langley.
“We may not always get our pronunciation or wording 100 percent right but we expect this will improve with practice and encouragement. Whakawhetai koe mo to tautoko – thank you for your support.”
Other changes include the introduction of a karakia at the beginning and end of council meetings and the addition of te reo to the name badges of customers services staff and library teams. The libraries will add more te reo to existing programmes such as Toddler Time and have plenty of resources on display for all who want to brush up on their te reo skills.
The council will also run a Facebook competition, where the best te reo photograph caption will win a set of te reo children’s books.
“Our staff and Councillors are really embracing this,” says Langley, who is cooking mussel fritters for everyone at a special te reo celebration lunch.
His tupuna are from Kawhia and every year they make and sell fritters at the annual Kawhia Kai Festival to raise funds.
“Staff will literally be asked to sing for the supper and deliver a pepeha before claiming their kai,” he says.
However, his generosity stops short of revealing the special ingredients in his secret whanau mussel fritter recipe.
“Let’s just say the main ingredient is mussels and leave it at that,” he grins.