‘They should be in English’: National to ditch te reo traffic signs

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Proposed bilingual traffic signs were put out for public consultation on May 22.

Waka Kotahi

Proposed bilingual traffic signs were put out for public consultation on May 22.

National does not support bilingual traffic signs in te reo and English, said its transport spokesperson, Simeon Brown.

“Signs need to be clear. We all speak English, and they should be in English. Place names are okay, but when it comes to important signs saying things like ‘Expressway’, they should be in English, as it’s going to be confusing if you add more words,” he said.

Brown made the comments in a public meeting on transport held in a town hall in Bethlehem, Tauranga, on Friday.

Also in attendance were Tauranga MP Sam Uffindell, local councillors and a large crowd of disgruntled road users.

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It’s the second time Brown has visited the Bay of Plenty this week to listen to the community’s traffic woes.

This time, an audience member asked if Brown agreed with bilingual signs.

A package of 94 signs was released for public consultation this week, including destination signs, walking and cycling signs, warning signs and motorway advisory signs.

The project – let by Te Mātāwai, an organisation focused on revitalisation of te reo Māori, and transport agency Waka Kotahi – aims to ensure te reo Māori is more visible on roads.

“Place names are okay,” National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown said, but other types of road signs will become too confusing with more words added.

Christel Yardley/Stuff

“Place names are okay,” National’s transport spokesman Simeon Brown said, but other types of road signs will become too confusing with more words added.

Te Mātāwai Board co-chair Reikura Kahi told Stuff bilingual signage was an important step towards affirming the indigenous status of te reo Māori.

Earlier this week, National party leader Christopher Luxon was also asked to discuss bilingualism at the Birkenhead bowls club.

Luxon said that there was “a problem” with the level of te reo Māori used in government departments, and that people had concerns.

In an opinion piece, Stuff political reporter Glenn McConnell said these concerns should be called out for what they are – “racist”.

But many in New Zealand want to see more te reo Māori in everyday life. A poll from July found three in five people think it should be a core subject in primary schools.

Long queues on SH2 are frustrating road users traveling between Ōmokoroa to Tauranga, and they’re looking for workarounds.

Stuff

Long queues on SH2 are frustrating road users traveling between Ōmokoroa to Tauranga, and they’re looking for workarounds.

Back at Friday’s Tauranga meeting, another audience member suggested traffic workers should work 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The only people benefitting from Tauranga’s traffic issues were traffic management and consultants, Brown said.

National will announce its transport policy in the next few weeks, said Brown, but was committed to Tauranga – which he said was underinvested in infrastructure.

National has already committed to build the Takitimu Northern Link all the way to Ōmokoroa, said Uffindell.

Travelling SH2, from Ōmokoroa into Tauranga, is taking drivers up to 90 minutes, with drivers leaving as early as 4.30am to try and avoid long queues.

National Party leader Christopher Luxon speaking this week in Birkenhead in Auckland, where he was asked to discuss bilingualism.

Ricky Wilson/Stuff

National Party leader Christopher Luxon speaking this week in Birkenhead in Auckland, where he was asked to discuss bilingualism.

Other commuters stayed the night with friends in town, and one man went to the Mount by jet ski.

School bus driver Paul Turner said the delays had added an extra hour to the journey for the Year 1–8 children he transported.

“It’s causing health issues and absenteeism,” he told Stuff.

Others in the audience said they felt cycle lanes and bus lanes were being “forced” on them.

Brown said there should be choices that also allowed cars reasonable travel times.

In a visit to Tauranga on May 25, Prime Minister Chris Hipkins said he recognised that Tauranga’s population growth needed investment in infrastructure, and he acknowledged the current pressures for the region’s road users.

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