Removing English words from signage where possible and getting Maori food trucks out on the streets are some of the ideas raised for making Wellington the Te Reo capital of New Zealand.

Wellington City Council is working to raise the status and use of the language through its draft Te Reo Maori policy, Te Tauihu.

At a City Strategy Committee meeting this morning, submitters expressed their support for the policy and shared ideas on how to bring Te Reo into wider use in the city.

Teri O'Neill from the youth council said public facilities such as toilets could have Te Reo in their signage, and where possible the English word should be removed and replaced with an icon.


She said the youth council also wanted to see community areas in Wellington, such as Civic Square, be renamed, and new streets to be given Maori names unless there was a good reason for another name.

Chairman of the youth council Brad Olsen also said Maori food trucks would be another good way to spread appreciation of the culture.

"This policy is badly needed," Olsen said in the meeting.

"There is a lot of support for this and a lot of support for how to get this sort of policy working in a practical sense.

"I'm not a Te Reo speaker by any imagination. It's something I find quite uncomfortable to say stuff that I simply don't know the proper pronunciation of."

Providing opportunities to learn and normalising the use of the language throughout the city would help with this, he said.

Chief executive of Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Maori the Maori Language Commission, Ngahiwi Apanui, said every New Zealander could regard the language as theirs, and as "an integral part of our shared national identity".

"This policy's also a cool example of New Zealand trying to do the right thing," he said.


"Fifteen per cent of the population isn't going to achieve the revitalisation of Te Reo Maori on our own. This policy is not about today ... it's actually about tomorrow. It's actually about our grandchildren, our great grandchildren, and their children as well.

"I love Wellington, and this particular policy is a reason to love Wellington even more."

Member of the public Natasha Kuka also spoke to councillors, saying she began learning the language later in life.

"Through valuing and using language, we value the culture and identity of the people," she said.

"I want my children to see Te Reo Maori being valued here. I want them to have the option of speaking Maori or English as they navigate through this city."

Victoria University of Wellington lecturer Vincent Olsen-Reeder gave some suggestions for the draft policy, saying it needed to focus not just on the use of Te Reo within council, but also throughout the city.

"Everybody needs to see themselves in it."

He said the policy was "bold, assertive, and well-intended".

However there was "no clearly expressed goal". He suggested an example, that Wellington be a bilingual city by 2025.

Olsen-Reeder said the policy should lay out a timeline for when goals should be reached by.

"Make is really clear what is being achieved."

There could be an annual award for showing good use and raising the status of Te Reo Maori in society, he said.

Council received 250 formal submissions on the policy as well as 263 postcard responses and a wide reach on social media.

Following today's oral submissions, council officers will report to the committee with a summary of the key themes for priority action, and a final draft policy.