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NZ should consider following South Island lead

Local Government Minister says whole of NZ should consider following South Island lead on bilingual road signs

For immediate release
5 May 2000

Cabinet Minister Hon Sandra Lee has marked the unveiling of the country's first dual name state highway sign in the South Island today with a suggestion that the whole of New Zealand should consider following the South Island lead on bilingual road signs.

Ms Lee attended the ceremony on State Highway 8 near Temuka today in her capacity as Minister of Local Government and Associate Minister of Maori Affairs.

Under Ngai Tahu's settlement with the Crown, 88 Maori place names will appear on official maps and road signs and 25 of these names will appear on some 220 Transit New Zealand road signs in Ngai Tahu areas during the next few years, following the unveiling of the first sign today.

"Maori is one of this country's two official languages, " said Ms Lee, "and I believe this South Island initiative, although taken under a treaty settlement, is a model that could be adopted in other parts of the country, where appropriate."

Transit New Zealand has described the cost of adding Maori names to existing signs as marginal, and the dual name signs it has committed to erecting will be changed as part of normal upgrading.

The new dual name road sign unveiled today points travellers in the direction of Aoraki (Mt Cook), the mountain which Ms Lee identifies closely with through her Poutini Ngai Tahu iwi heritage.

"The 'unveiling' of Aoraki is perhaps a bit odd, given that this is the name which the mountain has been called for the past Millennium," Ms Lee said, "but today's ceremony offers an insight for the whole of Aotearoa."

"Aoraki or Aorangi, the first light of separation, in the Maori sense conveys the introduction of light and knowledge, the mechanism by which people might free themselves from ignorance. From the summit of the mountain, it is possible to look North to see its distant cousins, Taranaki, Ruapehu and Ngaruahoe, and even further to Reinga where the spirits depart."

"I would hope that today's unveiling of the Aoraki sign could be seen by all New Zealanders as a social metaphor for unveiling and examining the current state of the relationship between Maori and Pakeha and the solemn covenants made at the signing of the Treaty 160 years ago, in the spirit of partnership and goodwill."

"The light may shine on some festering racial wounds, but each time we undertake this sometimes painful process, we ensure that a firm foundation is laid to implement the process of healing."


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