A sight to feast your eyes on is how you could describe the event that took place in central Rotorua last week.

Te wiki o te reo Māori rotarota (Māori sign language week) was held in conjunction with New Zealand Sign Language Week and Te Wānanga o Aotearoa celebrated in style.

One class dressed up as their favourite book characters hitting the streets to teach people to sign in te reo Māori.

Kaiako Karri-Anne Vercoe-Black had wanted to bring fun to learning which she saw was sometimes lacking within the sector and as the students were in the Bachelor of Education programme she knew it was an opportunity too good to miss.


"We wanted to infuse a bit of love into our noho by doing the Amazing Race around town and teaching people not only Māori kupu but Māori sign as well.

"We are the bilingual capital of New Zealand and so what better place to lead the Māori sign language."

She said while at the beginning the students were resistant as they didn't want to look like "weirdos" the day ended with piles of laughter.

Vercoe-Black said Māori sign language was more contextualised than what it is in English and even "Kia Ora" was not as simple as a wave.

"They had to go up to one person in hi-vis as part of their tasks, and when they went up to him he was looking really sad but when he saw them dressed in book characters it just made his day.

"It was neat because they all enjoyed bringing joy from a Māori perspective to locals and people that aren't from our city.

"We just wanted to remind them that teaching should be fun."

Dressing as Matariki was Tania Kiel who said the highlight of her day was the whānaungatanga she experienced of her team working together.

"What I really enjoyed about the rotarota activity was witnessing the genuine enthusiasm of the people, who were random strangers, we were teaching.

"They were fully engaged and noted their appreciation."