News | 5 February 2018

Making Wellington a te reo city

Wellington City Council wants to hear from the public on how it can achieve the goal of making Wellington a te reo Māori city, Deputy Mayor Jill Day announced today.

A waka at sea.

The public consultation for the draft te reo policy, Te Tauihu – Te Kaupapa Here Hukihuki Te Reo Māori, opened today and asks Wellingtonians for ideas on how the Council can celebrate the language in the city. 

“It’s about incorporating more te reo into our everyday lives,” Deputy Mayor Day says. 

“The Māori language has inherent mana and importance and we need to acknowledge that by making it more visible in our city.” 

The policy honours a commitment made by Mayor Justin Lester during Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori last year. Its development was led by the Deputy Mayor, who is the first Māori female in the role and holds the Māori Partnerships portfolio. 

Submissions received will help create an action plan to inform not only the way the Council approaches signage, but also other public forms of communication, such as speeches, street art, murals, performing arts and much more. 

“This draft policy is the first step in that process,” Cr Day says. 

“We want to gather as many varied ideas as possible on how we can make this policy real - how we can enact it. We want people to be creative and think outside the square.” 

To celebrate the launch and showcase how the policy can be enacted, a family activity is planned for Waitangi Day to highlight Whairepo Lagoon on the waterfront. 

“The Whairepo (eagle rays) that inhabit the lagoon are considered guardians of the area, but many don’t know about the Māori name of the lagoon or the creatures that live in or visit the water,” Cr Day says. 

“The activity we have planned will highlight how we can visualise te reo in our city in simple ways that can be understood by all ages.” 

Whairepo Lagoon activity on Te Rā o Waitangi

Whairepo refers to the eagle rays that swim in the lagoon in the warmer months. To recognise the name of the lagoon, the Council has decorated the surrounding area with chalk Whairepo, designed by artist Reweti Arapere.

People of all ages are invited to come to Wharewaka from 9am on Waitangi Day to learn more about the name and legend of the Whairepo. Grab some chalk to colour them in, add some seaweed, fish or other sea life, or perhaps have a go a drawing your own Whairepo. 

Facts about Whairepo

  • The lagoon was officially named by the New Zealand Geographic Board in December 2015
  • It is found only in New Zealand and Australian waters
  • The words Whairepo are said to derive from Whai – ray and Repo – mudflat
  • It has two large fins on each side that it moves up and down to fly through the water
  • Can grow to 1.5 metres long
  • Females are larger than males
  • The top is dark green, dark brown or yellow with grey or blue markings. Its underside is white
  • It feeds on clams, oysters, crabs and worms that it finds on the seabed. 

More information

Amy Jackman
Deputy Mayor’s Office
Phone: 027 329 0646