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Non-speaking and Te Reo Māori communication boards unveiled in Ōtaki

1 Dec 2023, 1:23 PM

Following a blessing by Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki at Haruatai Park’s playground this morning, Kāpiti Coast District Council unveiled non-speaking and Te Reo Māori communication boards as part of an ongoing process to make local playgrounds accessible for all abilities.

Council’s Play Projects Coordinator Cat Wylde says the purpose of the boards is to support non-speaking tamariki and whānau in their play.

“While the boards include symbols for yes/no and counting numbers, there’s additional symbols for running and jumping, and stand out pieces of equipment such as slides.”  

Hara Adams, Iwi Partnerships Group Manager says through the inclusion of both English and Te Reo Māori communication boards in the district’s playgrounds, Council continues to demonstrate an ongoing commitment to support the mana whenua Te Reo Māori vision for a bilingual Kāpiti. 

Image: Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki and Kāpiti Coast District Council staff with the communication boards following the blessing on 30 November 2024. L–R Kirsten Hapeta (Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki), Deanna Rudd, Hara Adams, and Cat Wylde (Kāpiti Coast District Council), Heni Wirihana and Denise Hapeta (Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki). See larger image.

Denise Hapeta, Chair of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki, says the communication boards support Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki’s vision Kia Ukaipō Te Reo Māori ki Ōtaki for Ōtaki to be officially recognised as a bilingual town.

The boards include a QR code for uploading the communication tools to digital devices, providing families with the ability to use the tools in other parks and public spaces around Kāpiti.

“The Haruatai Park boards are the first to be installed, with the all-abilities Lorna Irene Drive Reserve playground in Raumati South to follow soon, making this award-winning playground fully accessible not just physically accessible,” says Ms Wylde.

“Further boards are also planned for in or near playgrounds at Aorangi Road Reserve, Mazengarb Reserve, and Maclean Park (Paraparaumu), Marine Gardens (Raumati Beach) and Campbell Park (Paekākāriki).

“The communication boards project began in Kāpiti after seeing similar boards being used in Tairāwhiti Gisborne. 

“With advice from speech language therapist Kristina Pinto and TalkLink Trust, we also engaged with our Disability Advisory Group, a mana whenua translator, local speech therapist Sarah Courtnage, and parents of non-speaking rangitahi Rebekah Corlett and Nicola Stoddard-Edmonds on the design, language, and placement of the boards.”

Disability Advisory Group member and parent Rebekah Corlett says communication is a human right, and play is an integral part of growing up.

“The communication boards are a form of AAC (Augmentative and Alternative Communication) that non-speaking people use to communicate.”

Heni Wirihana Te Rei, Tumuaki of Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Rito in Ōtaki says the communication boards ensure the communication needs of our mokopuna Motuhake, neurodiverse and their whānau in immersion language environments are met.

“We’re really pleased to see the first of these signs installed and look forward to more being rolled out across Ōtaki and the wider district soon.”