Moves to make Bluff bilingual

    Cultural activator Jay Coote wants to have bilingual signage in Bluff in an effort to celebrate te reo Maori.

    A BLUFF pair want to implement bilingual signage across the town in a bid to normalise te reo Maori and recognise its importance in the community.

    Tuurama Trust’s cultural activator Jay Coote has been working with Bluff woman Tammi Topi in a project to restore indigenous place names throughout Bluff.

    Mr Coote said about 80% of tamariki (children) living there identified themselves as Maori.

    ‘‘This is quite a high number if we compare it with the country’s average. And we want these kids to feel proud about the place.

    ‘‘The signs would help us to enhance the awareness and increase the mana there.’’

    The idea was not only to translate words, but also create plates explaining the story of the place.

    They would like to create a kind of cultural trail in the town for people to follow while also learning about their own history.

    This would also be important to clarify many of the meanings of some Maori words.

    ‘‘There are so many different words, so many meanings. Sometimes the English equivalent might have some similar meaning, or another is just a wider meaning.

    ‘‘It is important for people to understand and increase the awareness of Maori words.’’

    He said Bluff had a lot of history and the project would fit perfectly with the planned rejuvenation of the town.

    Last year, the Invercargill City Council endorsed a Bluff Tourism master plan which supports the revitalisation of the town during the next 20 years.

    Being a ‘‘Bluffie’’ himself, Mr Coote felt lucky he had the opportunity to learn the language while at school.

    Te reo Maori was seen, heard, learnt, and spoken as part of everyday life and the bilingual signs were a simple yet highly visible example of that, he said.

    ‘‘We just want the youth to recognise their whakapapa and where they come from. This would give them more pride of who they are.’’

    Mr Coote and Ms Topi spoke about the project with Awarua Runanga representatives, who supported them and helped them with initial inquiries.

    However, they wanted to hear from the wider community any ideas which could enhance their project.

    After that, they hoped to present the project to the Bluff Community Board and then to the Invercargill City Council for approval.

    Mr Coote would love to see the project expand to other areas across the region, but at this stage, he was focused only on Bluff.

    ‘‘I would really encourage and support any town who would like to do that. It’ll just help tell the stories of the town and regions in a meaningful way.’’