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A Bilingual Public Sector in New Zealand

“The reality of a bilingual Mäori-English public sector is very possible,” says Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Mäori (Mäori Language Commission) Chief Executive Haami Piripi.

How this can be achieved will be outlined at a seminar in Wellington today hosted by the Commission which will be attended by over 130 people representing upwards of 40 public sector organisations.

“We knew there was wide interest in language planning from the work we are already doing with other agencies. This seminar is holistic in its approach and aims to create a forum to share information across the whole sector and demystify the process of Mäori language planning.

“We want to establish best practise language planning and provide follow-on workshops offering practical tools early next year.

“The seminar on its own is not the answer to an organisations needs in the area of improving their communication with Mäori clients, but will go a long way towards it. What it will take is 100% commitment in the long and short-term,” says Haami.

The seminar will examine the cost effectiveness of language plans and give examples of how language planning can be integrated into existing human resource management systems.

“For over a decade the Commission has been advocating and supporting government agencies, private sector and Mäori organisations to become bilingual. Mäori language planning is a serious business and will help agencies become more effective in their dealings with Mäori and International communities,” says Haami.

In 1992 the Commission began to work with organisations to create bilingual titles, this was the first part of a nine step language plan. This was followed by the incorporation of the use of the name on stationery, exterior signs, publicity material, interior signs, forms, letters and reception services. Later the implementation of language classes was recommended.

“We need to take planning a step further now as operating te reo classes does not constitute language planning. There needs to be organisational know how and know what and robust language plans which will mean that the needs of anyone demanding services in the Mäori language will and can be met across the public sector.

Endz

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