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Group calls for national retail chains to install Maori signage

  • News
  • March 3, 2016
  • Elly Strang
Group calls for national retail chains to install Maori signage
A FreshChoice supermarket's signage for Maori Language Week. Source / FreshChoice Facebook page

Umere chair Maraea Hunia says the group thinks the minister will back them.

“We’re noticing that our airports and banks and other organisations are putting other languages ahead of Maori, and that a law change will address this,” she says.

The group wants banks, schools, airports, national retail chains and other large institutions to have mandatory te reo Maori signs alongside English ones.

“It’s accepted in bilingual nations that this kind of signage is used, like in Wales and Canada,” Hunia says.

“‘We’d like this kaupapa to be at the top of the agenda at the Matawai hui tomorrow in Levin, where Maori language communities are being asked about the Maori language bill.”

Te reo Maori is one of New Zealand’s three official languages, yet a survey by Statistics NZ found just 11 percent of the population can speak Maori well.

Last year during Maori Language Week, many Kiwi retailers felt it was important to take the opportunity to promote the language.

This included New Zealand’s biggest ecommerce site, Mighty Ape.

Mighty Ape social media manager Che Kamariera told The Register it was important to get on board with the week because te reo Maori is unique to New Zealand.

“Using some kupu in our tweets and Facebook posts was a simple and fun way to take part in Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori. It was our way to tautoko the kaupapa.”


Progressive Enterprises’ Fresh Choice and SuperValue supermarkets also promoted the week through in store signage showing the Maori words for produce and bread.

FreshChoice Barrington in Christchurch have been getting into Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori! More info here FreshChoice.co.nz/MaoriLanguageWeek

Posted by FreshChoice on Sunday, July 26, 2015

According to Radio New Zealand, as many as 31 of Progressive’s Countdown stores installed bilingual signage around the country in 2013.

BNZ is also one of the most committed to promoting and interacting with Maori culture. It creating an eight-person Maori banking team to provide dedicated support to Maori individuals, businesses and iwi groups in 2015.

“Head of Māori business Pierre Tohe wrote a post for Māori Language Week saying why the language is important to him last year, which was promoted by BNZ.

BNZ’s competitor, ANZ, also launched a Māori-designed ATM for Matariki last year.

Should national retail chains install te reo Maori signage? Share your thoughts below.

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