NZ introduces bilingual traffic signs to 'boost visibility' of Māori language

The proposal for bilingual signage in New Zealand is seen as a 'crucial step' in recognising and revitalising the Māori language while critics argue road signage is not the place for virtue signalling amid safety concerns.

NZ introduces bilingual traffic signs to 'boost visibility' of Māori language
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New Zealand is set to introduce bilingual traffic signs to ensure the Māori language is more visible.

Proposed changes would see 94 signs – ranging from warning signs to cycling signs – be redesigned to incorporate Maori words.

The push is being led by Te Mātāwai, an organisation dedicated to revitalising Māori language.

The group’s co-chair Reikura Kahi said traffic signs had an important part to play in ensuring the Māori status was “affirmed and recognised” across New Zealand,” she said.

"Affirming the status of te reo (language) and enabling community engagement are critical drivers of language revitalisation so we celebrate this moment."

Kahi said bilingual signage was an important step towards affirming the indigenous status of te reo Māori in Aotearoa.

Land transport director Kane Patena said consultation was taking place with countries where bilingual signage was already in use to look at how the design could “mitigate safety risks”.

He said that if the plan went ahead, bilingual signs would be installed as existing signs needed to be replaced.

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