Goal set for Tauranga to become NZ’s first bilingual city

By Mere McLean
  • Waikato/Bay of Plenty

Iwi radio announcer Pat Spellman of Moana AM has always been pro-Māori, so when it came to launching a campaign to make Tauranga the first bilingual city in NZ, the hope was to highlight the use of the Māori language.

According to Mr Spellman, “It's essentially an opportunity for those in Tauranga, whether they're tourists, residents or visitors, to get an understanding of this area.”

Part of the project is to have bilingual signs in the Tauranga area, something that has the support of Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Te Rangi chairman and Moana AM manager, Charlie Tawhiao.

Charlie Tawhiao says, “We here at the radio station know that a lot of Pākehā support the language.”

There are three areas in this project that will look at uplifting the Māori language within Tauranga, but the hardest task will be changing the mind-set of the community.

Mr Spellman believes, “There were plenty of negative responses along with the positive ones, and there were some quite surprising things in the media.

“Some of those who took the opportunity to voice their opinions weren't the friendliest of people.”

The aim of the project is to make Tauranga bilingual, which they hope to achieve in time for Māori Language Week in July.