Wellington Te Reo Policy to honour Billie Tait-Jones

16 November 2017

Wellington City Council’s proposed Te Reo Māori policy will honour Billie Tait-Jones, the organisation’s Cultural Advisor, who passed away earlier this month.

Mayor Justin Lester and Chief Executive of Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori Ngahiwi Apanui

“The proposed policy, Te Tauihu – Te Kaupapa Here Reo Māori o te Kaunihera o Pōneke, is the first step in the Council’s aspiration to ensure that te reo is more visible in the everyday lives of Wellingtonians,” says Deputy Mayor Jill Day, who has been leading the development of the policy.

“It is my intention that we dedicate this policy to the memory of Billie Tait-Jones, in celebration of her life and what she achieved. In many ways, she exemplified the spirit of this proposed policy: positivity, inclusiveness and the desire to make te reo a very visible part of our everyday lives.”

The proposed policy honours a commitment made by Mayor Justin Lester during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori earlier this year, and is accompanied by an action plan that takes into account not only the way that the Council approaches signage, but also other public forms of communication, such as street art, murals, performing arts and much more.

Cr Day says the Council wants to demonstrate that Te Reo is an integral part of who we are as a country and as a city.

“We want to lead the way in making this part of the cultural fabric of our city. This is a public statement of our commitment to Te Reo Māori, an acknowledgement of the mana of Māori culture and values, our joint history and the whakapapa of our rohe.”

Cr Day said the policy has been developed in part as a recognition of the fact that Te Reo Māori is an official language of New Zealand.

“Te Tauihu supports the principles set out in Te Ture mō Te Reo Māori 2016 - the Māori Language Act 2016 - and also recognises the partnership principle of Te Tiriti.

“As the capital city we are showing leadership in recognising the proper status of Te Reo Māori by incorporating it into in our everyday life.”

The Council has a central role to facilitate Te Tauihu through its partnership with mana whenua iwi, through its own decision-making processes and functions, in how it communicates, through city signage, facilities and design, and through its cultural investments.

Acting City Council Chief Executive Kane Patena says Councillors voted unanimously at today’s City Strategy Committee meeting to endorse the proposed policy, which will be subject to public consultation early next year. “The vote was a fitting tribute to Billie Tait-Jones and her unstinting work to incorporate Te Reo Māori and tikanga Māori into the lives of the people of Te Whanganui-a-Tara.”