Bilingual signage wins an award in Taranaki

An initiative by Taranaki DHB to increase the visibility of te reo Māori on the hospital grounds and campus with bilingual signage has been recognised with an award by the Māori Language Commission. It’s a great example of a DHB championing effective service delivery for Māori.

In 2014, Taranaki DHB were awarded the Government category at the Māori Language Awards run by the Māori Language Commission Te Taura Whiri i te reo Māori.

Ngawai Henare, Chief Advisor for Māori Health said they were ‘thrilled to have won the Government category award. It acknowledges the work that’s been done by lots of people to make te reo Maori much more visible throughout Taranaki Base Hospital and the Taranaki DHB campus,’ she said.

Taranaki DHB submitted an application based on its commitment to incorporate bilingual signage around Project Maunga (the hospital redevelopment) along with usage of te reo Māori in pamphlets, posters and the new Children’s Ward.

‘Part of the challenge of improving Māori health is about making services more inviting for Māori so they’ll actually feel ok about coming here to receive services,’ said Ms Henare.

‘One way of doing this is to reflect Māori culture in the environment. Project Maunga was a great opportunity to do this, and now bilingual signage is prominent around the hospital and campus,’ she said.

Ms Henare emphasised the importance of working with the eight iwi of Taranaki through their representative body, Te Whare Punanga Korero (TWPK), to make the bilingual signage project happen.

‘This project is a good example of the strength of the relationship the Taranaki iwi has with the Taranaki DHB, as a Crown agent. This is an influential relationship that’s based on the principles of the Treaty of Waitangi and it is important to acknowledge this project is as much about TWPK as it is the Taranaki DHB,’ she said.

Ms Henare also emphasised the importance of the relationship the Taranaki DHB has built with Te Reo O Taranaki Trust, experts in the Taranaki dialect of the Māori language who provided the translations for all our signage. ‘Te Reo o Taranaki applied a rigorous process to decide on the correct translations. Mitchell Ritai and his team were finalists themselves in the Community award category and were present at the awards evening as well. It was fitting for them to join with the Taranaki DHB and Te Whare Punanga Korero on the stage to collect the award,’ she said.

The 2014 Taranaki DHB Maori Language Awards application highlighted several key points.

  • How the use and awareness of Māori culture and te reo Māori has been raised in and around the hospital. For example, the widespread use of bilingual signage in and around the hospital which has created lots of interest and discussion.
  • How the Taranaki DHB’s leadership has supported increasing the visibility of te reo around the hospital. For example, the Taranaki DHB Board now has specific time allocated at every Board meeting for raising cultural awareness. This is delivered by one of its Board members.
  • How it has been ensured the reo used is of a high quality and relevant to Taranaki. Involving Te Reo O Taranaki Trust who are experts in te reo o Taranaki and have been of immense value here, and the Taranaki DHB has committed to maintaining this relationship.
  • Taranaki DHB has long term plans for incorporating te reo Māori including:
    • its commitment to including bilingual signage on all its facilities, as these are refreshed and updated over time
    • discussion with Te Reo O Taranaki as to how Taranaki DHB can deliver Māori language lessons to staff, hopefully in the not too distant future.
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