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Rotorua Reorua - Bilingual Rotorua

Te  Arawa

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On 11 August 2017, it was announced that Rotorua would become New Zealand’s very first bilingual city.  The launch of Rotorua Reorua meant that the city of Rotorua was now set to become a place where the learning of both Māori and English is supported and encouraged.


In 1880 an agreement, known as the Fenton Agreement, was signed between Ngāti Whakaue and the Crown. Ngāti Whakaue gifted lands to the Crown to build the city of Rotorua. The people who signed the Fenton Agreement surely hoped that the partnership would make sure Te Arawa heritage was preserved and that te reo Māori would have the same value as English.  This has not always happened. Even though Rotorua is proudly known as a centre for Māori culture and manaakitanga, te reo Māori is not spoken as much as English. Many whānau who once spoke Māori at home began to lose their reo because they were encouraged to only use English at school and work.


Te Tatau o Te Arawa is a special board of 14 people to help guide a partnership between Te Arawa people and the Rotorua Lakes Council. With the help from Council and Te Puni Kōkiri, they came up with the Rotorua Reorua plan to try and grow the use of te reo Māori and protect the unique heritage of the Te Arawa rohe (district).


There are lots of things all people living in Rotorua can do to help Rotorua become a truly bilingual city. They could use apps like 'Kupu or Te Reo Māori' to learn a few Māori words and practice them with their whānau.  They could use websites like 'Māori Dictionary', take online courses, borrow some books from Rotorua Library, or play some simple games together to start to learn te reo Māori.  

Tamariki could help their parents and whānau learn how to pronounce local Māori place names correctly or they could try to using common Māori words instead of the English versions, such as maunga in place of mountain.  Rangatahi could even encourage their schools, clubs and workplaces to include Māori words in their signage.

Qualities: innovation, diligence, relationships, identity, wellbeing

Here’s a tip:

Why not get in touch with Te Arawa Digital Stories Storehouse - He Pātaka Pūrākau and share how you,

your kura or your whānau are helping to promote te reo Māori?

More to watch:


Here is an amazing free resource based on the television show Tōku Reo and Te Whanake language course to help people get started learning te reo Māori:,188,0,43,html/Series1


HEIHEI is a fantastic, safe, free site for tamariki featuring lots of fun and informative things to watch, listen to and play.  It also has some great resources celebrating te reo Māori:


More to read:

From Rotorua Library:

A Māori word a day: 365 words to kickstart you reo (Hēmi Kelly)

Māori at home: an everyday guide to learning the Māori language (Scotty Morrison)

Māori made easy. 2: the next step in your language-learning journey (Scotty Morrison)

Māori made easy: for everyday learners of the Māori language.  Workbook/Kete 3 (Scotty Morrison)

Māori made easy: for everyday learners of the Māori language.  Workbook/Kete 4 (Scotty Morrison)


This entry is related to:

The setting up of Rotorua: The Fenton Agreement


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