Happy to be here - Rotorua

Kia ora! This week is Te Wiki o te Reo Māori (Māori Language Week) and we’ve got some exciting things in store for you this week. Did you know Te Wiki o te Reo Māori aims to raise awareness of Aoteroa New Zealand’s own language and encourage the use of te Reo? This year’s theme is Kia Kaha te Reo Māori – let’s make the Māori language strong. Rotorua is renowned for its geothermal activity and Maori culture. It is home to a living Maori village, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute and our only AMI branch that is bilingual in both English and te Reo Māori. What better way to celebrate Māori language week by having a kōrero (talk) with the AMI Rotorua team! Meet Ami Rotorua manager, Ānaru.

Hi Ānaru! Can you tell us about the Māori culture within the branch?

Our journey to become a bilingual in te Reo and English first began in 2017 when the Rotorua Lakes Council shared their vision to become the first bilingual city in Aotearoa.

For me personally, I felt this was an important part of our connection to the community so I decided to raise awareness to our Leadership team. This coincided with the office going through a refurbishment and felt that it was a perfect fit for us and the timing with our office refit was an ideal time to have a kōrero. Wanting to become a bilingual store in te Reo was a first for AMI and required consultation and engagement with several stakeholders. However, with the help and support from our Leadership, Risk, Capability and Marketing teams as well as some guidance from an Agency of the Rotorua Lakes Council, we were able to bring it all together.

What do you like most about this year’s theme?

This year’s theme Kia Kaha te Reo Māori is all about being proud and has a powerful connection for us. I want to encourage our people to have a go and don’t be whakamā (shy). We want to create awareness around Kia Kaha te Reo Māori. Stand proud with it, encourage it and build confidence around it!

How is your team celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori?

This week as a team we are using common te Reo Māori phrases, changing our signature emails and using the kupu app: camera to translate objects into te Reo Māori. The app is great because you can take a photo and then it translates in real time to te Reo Māori. The app even says the translation out loud, so you can practice pronunciation.

How do our customers feel about being able to go into our store and having that option to speak to us in Māori?

Having te Reo on the front door, welcome pod and welcome wall on entrance stands out. You often hear and see customers taking a moment to sit back and read it. Customers in the education and health sector in particular are quite happy to see te Reo in the work place. Some of our local Kaumatua (elders) have a smile on their face when they see it. Our staff love that we are part of a diverse community. Being a bilingual store is just one way that reflects our connection to the city and our people.

It is great to see that AMI Rotorua has got behind the kaupapa Māori!

Rotorua, we are Happy to Be Here!