Private Sector - why should you have a Māori language plan? 

Official language

Māori and English are both official languages of New Zealand. Parts of New Zealand English are rooted in Māori vocabulary, and it is not uncommon to hear the Māori language used or referenced in speech. This development is reflected in A Dictionary of Māori Words in New Zealand English recently published by Oxford.

Point of difference for your business

A high percentage of Māori-language speakers are very supportive of Māori-language initiatives. Put simply, Māori-language initiatives are a point of difference between business competitors and, all things being equal, the Māori-language speaker is more likely to opt for an organisation that is seen to support the Māori language.

The provision of basic bilingual signage in shops, and correctly pronounced greetings – ‘Kia ora’ (Hello), ‘Tēnā koe’ (Hello), ‘Mōrena’ (Good morning) – are effective ways of supporting the Māori language.

Māori language and culture give a business a point of difference that is unique to New Zealand, and this can be utilised by the private sector to provide a commercial advantage, at the same time as supporting Māori-language regeneration.

Building goodwill with the Māori community

Many in the Māori community, whether they are Māori-language speakers or not, recognise when the Māori language is being respected and supported, and the appropriate use of Māori words can form part of an effective communications strategy. A company that has a policy of answering its phones with the greetings ‘Kia ora’ or ‘Kia ora – Good morning’ creates goodwill that can be translated into better customer relationships. Likewise, an advertisement that includes correctly pronounced Māori words can have a beneficial effect.

Alternatively, the inappropriate use or pronunciation of Māori words can be off-putting.

Staff pride and morale

Many Māori-language speakers view Māori culture and Māori language as being very important. Most Māori-language speakers recognise the challenges of language revitalisation, including the expectation that their native language will be of minimal or no value in the workplace. Encouraging Māori language to be spoken in the workplace would not only improve Māori staff morale, but would also be a source of great pride which not only improves loyalty but further supports staff morale.

Vision and goals

The process of becoming a bilingual organisation can be relatively straight forward if you have a clear vision, set realistic goals and have support from those in the Māori-language sector. Your vision can be as wide-ranging and long term as you like. The goals you choose will support the achievement of your vision and should be broken up into short-, medium- and long-term goals.

Example

A privately owned restaurant might choose the following as their vision and goals:

Vision:

For the restaurant to be the preferred restaurant for Māori language speaking adults.

Short Term Goal:

Medium Term Goal:

  • 2 month deadline
  • All staff able to correctly pronounce Māori names and words
  • Start establishing relationships with Māori-language teachers/mentors to advise on long-term goals

Long Term Goal:

  • 6 month deadline
  • Review success of programme against goal of being preferred restaurant for Māori-speaking adults
  • All staff able to give basic greetings and correctly pronounce Māori names/words, all signage in both Māori and English
  • Basic pronunciation training to be part of the induction programme for new staff
  • Reo Māori skills a part of the job description for future staff hires
  • Look at possible initiatives for Māori Language Week / Day

Feel free to get in touch with Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori for help with Māori-language resources and for guidelines about including bilingual signage.

How can I apply a Māori language plan?

In the office

Internal communications

A Māori-language internal communications policy can ensure that your staff can choose to communicate in either Māori or English, whether that is in simple greetings, casual conversations or formal communications. It can also be used to standardise bilingual messages in letterhead, automatic email messages and other written forms of communication.

Recruitment

A recruitment policy can set guidelines for bilingual job advertisements, job descriptions and succession planning, and in identifying the skills you are looking for in new employees.

Staff training

A Māori-language training policy, like other training policies, can set guidelines for who can access training, and defines the type, purpose and duration of training.

Communicating with clients

External communications

A Māori-language external communications policy can ensure that Māori and English languages are used appropriately and consistently in all modes of communication with clients/the public.

Quality assurance

A quality assurance policy for Māori-language text ensures that bilingual documents and translations are accurate and of a consistently high standard.

Bilingual publications

A bilingual publications policy can ensure that Māori and English languages are used appropriately and consistently in all types of publications.

Bilingual websites

A bilingual website policy can ensure that Māori and English languages are used appropriately and consistently on your organisation's website.

Bilingual signage

A bilingual signage policy can ensure that your organisation is projecting the image that the Māori and English languages have equal status.

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