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Q Theatre Unveils Venue-Wide Bi-Lingual Signage

Not Just the Wharepaku - Q Theatre Unveils Venue-Wide Bi-Lingual Signage

Auckland’s Q Theatre has joined the growing movement of organisations recognising the importance of te reo Māori by unveiling a venue-wide suite of bi-lingual signage.

The venue’s signage now includes translations for areas within the theatre such as te wharekai (cafe) and te tari tīkiti (box office), as well as directions such as “Kei te Papa 2 ngā wharepaku e wātea ana ki te katoa me ngā papa tīni kope” (gender neutral bathrooms & baby changing stations are located on level 2), and instructions such as “tēnā, whakawetongia tō waea pūkoro”(please turn off your mobile phone).

“It seems many venues only use te reo for bathroom signage, if at all. And we were one of those venues. But at it’s heart, theatre is all about communicating and connecting with each other, so we wanted to reflect these values in the signage displayed around our venue, and pay respect to the tangata whenua”, says Q’s Business Development Manager and te reo advocate, Debs McSmith.

McSmith is in her second year learning te reo Māori at AUT, and enjoys sharing her passion for Aotearoa’s indigenous culture with her workmates. “Q stands atop the now subterranean Waihorotiu Stream, which originated from a spring in Myers Park, flowed down to the Waitematā and was a source of fresh water in pre-European times. So people have been coming to this spot to be nourished for centuries; we’re trying to continue that kaupapa in an arts & culture context.”

“I am delighted to see Q embracing our beautiful te reo Māori throughout the building. It’s a great way to acknowledge its mana as an official language of Aotearoa. Tau kē Q! " says Q patron and actor, Jennifer Ward Lealand. Ward Lealand is also a strong advocate for te reo Māori, and well known for her commitment to becoming fluent in the language.

Q engaged the services of licensed translator, lecturer and researcher Hēmi Kelly (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whāoa) in translating the signage.

“I think it's excellent that bilingual, English and Māori signage is becoming more and more common throughout the country. It's not only promoting the language within the space but it's normalising the language within the community. I appreciate Q taking the intuitive to find someone proficient in the language to assist with the translation of signage and encourage any organisation looking at Māori translation to seek assistance or quality assurance before publishing anything. This is sometimes overlooked and I've seen a number of examples of Google translations gone wrong.” says Kelly.

Q plans to offer te reo training to their front of house staff, so the writing is not just on the wall. “This is just the beginning for us, we’re looking at how we can encorporate NZ Sign Language at Q too, so we’re embracing all three of NZ’s official languages”, says McSmith.

Q Theatre is an independent performing arts and events centre located on Auckland’s Queen Street. It is also a registered charity and social enterprise, reinvesting 100% of operational profits back into Auckland’s arts industry.

Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (The Māori Language Commission) holds a database of licensed translators.
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