"Reo-rua Rotorua" - NZ's first bilingual city

By Mānia Clarke-Mamanu

Rotorua has become the country's first bilingual city with some business of the Māori tourist hotspot adopting bilingual initiatives such as signage and menus. 

The Minister of Māori Development, Te Ururoa Flavell says it is a new healthy kick start for New Zealand's first bilingual city.

"My utmost hope would be for more people will be spoken in the city, like this gym we were instructed in Māori," he said.

Toa Gym co-owners are one of several Rotorua businesses who are backing the city's stance.

"I wanted to jump on board this kaupapa because of the fact that it breaks down barriers between peoples. I just think how important it is to bring our reo out," said Preston Whare.
"I'm Australian, so for me it's something completely different. It's something that I believe in as a part of our journey within Toa," said Lisa Allan.

Te Tatau o Te Arawa led the charge for the change with the backing of partner's Rotorua Lake Council.

"Our goal is to make our language a natural part of our fabric as a community, so we can easily relate to each other in Māori and English," said Te Tatau o Te Arawa Chair, Te Taru White.

"This is a day of great significance and pride for us the people of Te Arawa. Yes, initiating this so that our value of our Māori language is recognised," said Rotorua Lakes Council Māori advisor, Monty Morrison .

Bilingual initiatives include signage of buildings, streets, ATMs and businesses adopting bilingual signs, cheques and menus.

"Through this initiative the language has the opportunity to be celebrated by non-Māori," said local, Rawiri Anaru.

Otaki and Te Wairoa districts have made the move to becoming bilingual.

Rotorua Lakes Council hope other cities and regions will follow suit to normalise Te Reo Māori throughout the country.