February 23, 2015
Waka patu ahi on its way with lights flashing
Emergency services in Turanganui-a-Kiwa today unveiled the country's first bilingual emergency service vehicles.
Wayne Ngata from Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori says the aim is to increase the visibility of te reo Maori in streets and in communities.
He says Gisborne District Council, St John Ambulance Services and the New Zealand Fire Service are setting an example for other councils and government agencies to follow.
Dr Ngata says the area's waka turoro or ambulances and waka patu ahi or fire appliances serve a population where one in 10 are Mazori language speakers.
Te Taura Whiri believes bilingual signage is important as it acknowledges the status of te reo Maori as an official language of New Zealand.
As well as painting its waka turoro, St John Ambulance Services is keen to develop strategies for using te reo Maori through their organisation.
Police Te Tai Rawhiti already have vehicles that carry safety messaging in te reo Maori, and are looking to increase the use of bilingual signage throughout the organisation, including on vehicles.
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