A New Zealand brand expert has challenged New Zealand Police to make more te reo police cars.

Principal of Voice Brand Agency Jonathan Sagar believes it's time New Zealand stopped making token gestures to the Maori culture and fully adopt te reo words into Kiwis' everyday vocabulary.

Sagar, who is passionate about authentic communication and Maori culture, praised the police for their initiative but hopes it'll lead to long-term change.

"As a country why can't we use Maori names all the time?" Sagar told the Herald.


"Why can't the police permanently change the name 'police' to 'Pirihimana' rather than just do it for Maori language week. If you want a Maori name, have one.

"We've already been through this idea of just doing things to be appropriate. Aotearoa has matured and moved on from that.

"It's wonderful that as a nation we embrace Maori culture but why not do it all the time? We as a nation can move beyond the tokenism. It's a discussion the country is ready for."

Sagar, who has been in the branding industry for more than 35 years, was a major player in the rise of Maori words featuring in branding from as far back as the 1980s.

He believes police adopting the Maori word Pirihimana is a step in the right direction to promoting and embracing te reo Maori in every day life.

"We're already using some Maori words in everyday conversation such as 'kai' and 'whanau'. Pirihimana is a simple word as well.

"Te Papa is a prime example. People said 'you can't call a museum that', but we did and it's Te Papa now. Everyone gets it."

However, not everyone is happy with the te reo police cars with National MP Tau Henare claiming the concept is moronic.

"51 per cent of NZ's prison population is Māori," wrote Henare on Twitter. "This bullshi*t is about the most insensitive, barbaric and moronic thing I've ever seen."

On Facebook, the majority of Herald readers were positive about the vehicle that aims to celebrate the Māori language.

"Te Reo Māori is an official language of New Zealand, so the only question you should ask is why this has taken so long to appear on police cars," wrote Cohan Coleman.

Jasmine Horton Even said she was glad to see the Māori language used more and more.

"Kudos to whoever decided to do this," she wrote on Facebook.

Police Commissioner Mike Bush said police were "passionate about reflecting the communities we serve and working with Iwi to achieve better outcomes for Māori".

"We wanted to do something visible to show our support of te reo Māori and highlight our commitment to recruiting more Māori in Tamaki Makaurau, and across Aotearoa," Bush said.

Assistant Commissioner and Deputy Chief Executive Māori, Wally Haumaha, says that the organisation aims to encourage the use of te reo right across the New Zealand Police.

"The more we can do to effectively communicate the better, and there are a number of instances where having an officer able to speak te reo and understand tikanga has really been advantageous in resolving situations."

The Herald understands a number of the cars will be introduced into the fleet with the plan to have a mix of signwriting on the police vehicles in either Māori and English.