29 June 2018 - Rotorua’s first bilingual playground heralds the beginning of a number of local te reo Māori zones, which Te Tatau o Te Arawa says will satisfy the appetite for learning the country’s indigenous language.
A dawn service to mark the official opening was held this morning at the Government Gardens playground.
It was inspired by the rich history of the land it sits on and promotes te reo Māori using signage as well as digital games and stories.
The initiative is part of Rotorua Reorua (Bilingual Rotorua) which was launched last August and is being led by Council’s partner, Te Tatau o Te Arawa.
Its chair, Te Taru White, says Rotorua Reorua initiatives like the playground help fill the community’s appetite to learn te reo Māori and to understand our city and district’s history.
“Our research shows that our community wants to learn the language and understand the stories about Rotorua in a safe and inclusive environment. They are hungry to learn about our district’s identity and what makes us unique. Equally, we know Māori language speakers want te reo zones to grow across Rotorua. Playgrounds and tamariki (children) are a powerful combination because in this instance tamariki who have fun at this park can teach what they learn to their families,” says Mr White.
The playground has been gifted the name Taikākā.
“The name has been inspired by the famous words of Te Arawa chief, Te Rorooterangi, during the mighty battle, Tawharakurupeti in the Government Gardens. Ruia Taitea Ruia Taitea kia tū ko taikākā ko ahau anake. ‘Shake off the sapwood and the strong heartwood remains,” Mr White explains.
Rotorua Mayor, Steve Chadwick, says Taikākā complements Council’s vision of creating a vibrant and inclusive future for Rotorua and its people.
“We are visionary here in Rotorua and I see that each day through amazing initiatives like Taikākā. I am proud of our district’s progress to create positive change with guidance from the community. Our partnership with Te Tatau and supporting this mahi breathes life into Rotorua Reorua and reflects Council’s vision to collaborate with our community and celebrate our strong culture,” she says.
“It makes sense that a playground in Rotorua becomes a reorua (bilingual) park because it provides a platform that enables us to celebrate bilingualism as well as promote te reo Māori, which is fundamentally unique to Aotearoa/ New Zealand,” she says.
Bilingual signage for other playgrounds and reserves in Rotorua will gradually be implemented as or when improvements or upgrades happen.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa acknowledges the support from Te Puni Kōkiri, Council and the Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust Board.
Taikākā is an initiative identified by Te Tatau o Te Arawa’s two-phase action plan to support and encourage residents to start or advance their own bilingual journey
The upgrade of Taikākā has cost about $30,000
$20,000 came from Council’s existing park maintenance budget
$10,000 was funded by Ngāti Whakaue Education Endowment Trust Board for the digital signage and video content
You can check out more photos from the dawn ceremony here.