This week we’re celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week.

Fire and Emergency recognises Māori as tangata whenua. We’re committed to working together for a safer environment, not only for Māori, but for all New Zealanders.

In my video update, I share why Te Reo Māori is important to Fire and Emergency and some examples of what we’re doing as an organisation.

We recognise that Iwi and Māori, as community leaders, have an important role to play in preventing fires and other emergencies, building community resilience, and informing emergency response.

We recognise that Iwi, as significant land and forest owners, face increasing risk from vegetation fires and other emergencies arising from climate change.

And we recognise that Māori are disproportionately affected by unwanted fires, and this needs to change.

It is therefore vital that we continue to build strong relationships with Iwi and Māori as we design our new organisation and services to ensure we meet their needs.

We are also building a resilient and sustainable organisation that is respectful and inclusive to all our people, as well as to the communities we serve.

That means engaging in culturally appropriate ways; understanding and being familiar with Te Reo and tikanga (or protocols) means each of us can play a part in better supporting Māori in our communities.

So what is Fire and Emergency doing?

This week we’re launching a Te Reo version of Escape My House(external link), our website designed to help people escape their homes in the event of a fire.

This initative is in line with Fire and Emergency’s Te Reo policy, which supports our goal to be a bi-lingual organisation and requires us to design our fire safety promotional material in Te Reo as well as English.

In New Zealand there’s a house fire roughly every three hours, so the more people with escape plans in place, the better.

Now people can choose English or Te Reo as they learn about having a good escape plan.

You can read more about this initiative in our media release.(external link)

We’re developing a new app, Whare Kōrero, which will put a range of useful resources at your fingertips, including mihi or greetings, hui and marae protocol, and examples of common waiata, with both words and audio tracks.

It will be available for download soon – we’ll let you know more once it is available.

We’ve renamed our Regions to better reflect our connection to the land and to each other. The new names take their lead from the traditional story of Māui, in his canoe (the South Island), fishing up the North Island.

There’s lots more happening nationally, regionally and locally; we’ll share more examples with you through this week.

You can learn more about our new Region names and hear how to pronounce them on the Portal.

People have different levels of comfort and experience when it comes to using Te Reo, but I encourage all of you to take action and increase your own knowledge during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori, Māori Language Week.

By increasing our knowledge, we increase our understanding. By increasing our understanding, we increase our trust and respect for each other and our communities.

Kia kaha te reo Māori – Let’s make the Maori language strong!

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