A survey of more than 600 Rotorua residents showing two-thirds are interested in learning te reo has been heartening to Te Tatau o Te Arawa.

Rotorua officially became the country's first bilingual city in August last year and Te Tatau o Te Arawa established the survey to find out how locals would like to see that reflected.

Chairman Te Taru White said the number of responses was encouraging.

The survey found 90 per cent of Rotorua residents already knew some te reo Māori.


"What was heartening is the interest from people who want to learn te reo," White said.

"It's something new to them and there is a potential level of discomfort to overcome, so seeing they're interested is a positive step for us."

He said Te Tatau needed to recognise there were still some people in the community who were uncomfortable, "but that's how communities work".

He said Te Tatau would build on the information it had gathered to move forward with Reorua.

"Rotorua is growing in a space that can be seen as sensitive and challenging.

"Our community is quite grounded in its response to this and so we're concentrating on what could benefit all of us."

One Rotorua woman who had already taken up the challenge of learning te reo said it was an "amazing language".

Cinzia Jonathan was given the challenge by her mother in law two days before she died.


"She said it would be lovely if one day I could speak Māori.

"I made it my goal to push myself to learn it and by her unveiling I was speaking in te reo."

Jonathan is able to speak English, French, Indonesian and te reo Māori.

She said te reo had been the easiest to learn.

"I love te reo, it's an amazing language, it's the language of the land.

"If you can enrich yourself with another language then you really should."

She said her understanding of Māori culture had completely changed through learning the language and it was "mind-blowing".

"The biggest challenge is just to use it. It's okay if you get it wrong, how will you learn to be right if you don't get it wrong?

"You just have to learn to laugh at yourself, it's all good if you make a mistake."

She said moving forward she would like to see Reorua normalise te reo Māori.

Due to give birth in a few weeks, Jonathan said she would be speaking to her daughter in English and te reo.

"I want to see it become something normal, so people don't feel shy about it, so it's okay to speak it and give it a go."