One year on from Rotorua becoming the first bilingual city in Aotearoa, one of the men behind the move says it has been spent getting strong foundations in place.

A year ago today a formal ceremony at Rotorua Lakes Council declared Rotorua a bilingual city.

Te Tatau o Te Arawa led the initiative, with support from the council and Te Puni Kokiri.

In the background, the team at the Millennium Hotel Rotorua had already been working to incorporate te reo into the business.

Advertisement

"It was a lovely coincidence when Rotorua was then declared bilingual," sales manager Tony Moore said.

Moore said he had worked with staff over the past year learning a little bit of the history of Rotorua, learning new kupu (words) or rerenga kupu (phrases) they could share with customers.

"It's nice to see the effort our guests and our customers make when they see we are making the effort.

"People from overseas or from across New Zealand have started saying kia ora or morena back to us."

Staff have been learning kupu (words) and rerenga kupu (phrases) of the week. Photo/Stephen Parker
Staff have been learning kupu (words) and rerenga kupu (phrases) of the week. Photo/Stephen Parker

Moore said incorporating te reo had to be a choice but it was a wonderful thing to be part of.

"Not only for Rotorua but all of Aotearoa.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
9 Aug, 2018 9:08am
3 minutes to read
ROTORUA DAILY POST
24 Jul, 2018 8:03am
2 minutes to read
ROTORUA DAILY POST
30 Jun, 2018 7:45am
3 minutes to read

"It's about normalising the language and becoming more comfortable with it."

The restaurant at Millennium Hotel now has its menu printed in both languages, but it is still working through the bar menu.

"We are yet to find the Māori word for martini," Moore said.

The next step is hosting te reo language classes for staff members who want to take part.

Māori proverbs are part of how the team at Millenium Rotorua are engaging with te reo. Photo/Stephen Parker
Māori proverbs are part of how the team at Millenium Rotorua are engaging with te reo. Photo/Stephen Parker

He said he would like to see more businesses in Rotorua embrace the bilingual city.

Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White helped Millennium as it made sure the signs were correct.

"Time has flown by, it's hard to believe it was a year ago we got that official sign off from the council; that proud moment when we got it across the line," he said.

He said there had been a number of strong initiatives working in the te reo space over the past year but the focus was on delivering it in a quality way.

Guests have enjoyed engaging with the te reo signage Millennium Hotel Rotorua. Photo/Stephen Parker
Guests have enjoyed engaging with the te reo signage Millennium Hotel Rotorua. Photo/Stephen Parker

"We have developed the te reo playground as part of our goal to have open spaces where te reo could be spoken, been proactive with businesses who want to move into this space and have a new category in the Westpac Business Awards to acknowledge that.

"Teams like Hospice Rotorua have been helped through the process of gaining bilingual signage to support the work it does."

He said negotiations with the NZ Transport Agency were ongoing to change signs at the entrances to the city to incorporate te reo.

"We are at the point now of signing off on that signage."

These were the first stages of the plan and now Te Tatau is working to make the changes sustainable, White said.

"From my perspective and from Te Tatau we are pleased with the progress.

"We have put the bricks in place to make a strong foundation for the future."

For more information on what's happening with bilingual Rotorua and to get help with te reo lessons or translation visit tetatau.nz/rotorua-reorua/.