Constructive Links through Language

General News

Sep 18, 2017

Fletcher Construction is one of the first construction companies in New Zealand to introduce work site signage in both English and te reo Māori. Timed with Māori Language week, the bilingual signage was installed along the 13 kilometre stretch of new expressway, which is under construction between Peka Peka and Ōtaki.

Undertaking the project for the NZ Transport Agency, the Peka Peka to Ōtaki Expressway forms a key part of the Wellington Northern Corridor, which is one of the Government’s roads of national significance. The Transmission Gully motorway, Mackays to Peka Peka and Peka Peka to Ōtaki expressways are the main infrastructural developments of the corridor.

The Peka Peka to Otaki team, led by Andy Goldie, believe it is both appropriate and courteous to use English and Te Reo Māori signage when engaging with a community with one of the highest percentages of te reo speakers in the country. 

“Having bilingual signs is a way in which we can show respect for the Māori language and those who use it daily. It’s part of our ongoing commitment to encourage constructive links between the project team and the local community,” says Andy. 

With two Māori immersion schools and two bilingual units within mainstream schools in Ōtaki, there is also a real health and safety benefit.
“Many of our young people learn in te reo so we need to communicate with them in Māori, particularly about hazards around construction,” Andy states. 

The project team used Te Puni Kōkiri guidelines to develop the signage and involved pupils from Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o te Rito to ensure the wording was right.   
Principal of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o te Rito, Hēni Wirihana, says senior pupils at the kua took the job very seriously. 
“Ka rawe te kite I ngā pānui reo-rua kit e hapori nei. It’s awesome to see bilingual signage for such a huge construction task here in Ōtaki. The fluency level of parents and staff at Te Rito gave us confidence that the wording would be succinct and correct. Ngā mihi, PP2Ō Expressway.”

Gail Campbell, Acting Manager Cultural Wealth at Te Puni Kōkiri says, “the agency is delighted to see Fletcher Building using its guidelines to develop bilingual signage on the project.” 
“The guidelines were developed with public agencies in mind, so it’s great to see such a big private sector company embracing them. We commend the team for responding to their local community in this way,” she said.