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From the Teihana Utu to the Whare Pukapuka, te reo Maaori is becoming much more visible at Counties Manukau Health.

The signs for the pay station and the library at Middlemore Hospital are just two examples of an organisation-wide commitment to bilingual signage, explains Project Manager, Maaori Health - Whaanau Ora Services, Muru Maipi.

While the installation of the first signs coincided perfectly with Wiki o te Reo Maaori (Maaori Language Week), Mr Maipi explains the project really began as a way of reflecting the organisation’s core values.

CM Health’s stated values are manaakitanga (kindness) rangatiratanga (excellence) kotahitangi (togetherness) and whakawhanaungatanga (valuing everyone).

“These helped inform our activities around this year’s Matariki month and that period was about coming out of the darkness into the light of Matariki. Part of that was living the values and showing that we are a bilingual organisation. We have it on paper, but whakatinana is bringing it to life,” Mr Maipi says.

Given that CM Health sits within the rohe or area that belongs to the people of Tainui, this is the dialect that was chosen for all translations, he says.

“We’ve tried to keep the translations really practical, so, for example, the Emergency Department is Te Tari Rongoaa Ohorere, literally translated as the place for sudden medicine, and so far feedback has been really positive.

Wiki o te Reo Maaori had the theme of ‘Te Reo Maori me oona Tikanga’ Understanding the language and its Values. There is an inherent connection between language and culture - the culture and practices of the people who share a language are dynamic within a changing world.

CM Health also used the slogan ‘Kia marama te Kupu’ Understand the Word. This year the purpose of this project was to create a safe, basic and simple platform for all staff to begin their journey to learn te reo Maaori. 

To date, te reo Maaori signage has been installed in Ko Awatea and the Emergency Department. Bilingual signage for the rest of the hospital and other CM Health sites will be rolled out over coming months.

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