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Re-imagining Wellington as a Te Reo city

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Photo: Rob Vanderpoel.

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An exhibition this week at Thistle Hall in Cuba Street re-imagines Wellington as a Te Reo city: signs, names, buildings – all in Te Reo. The exhibition has 40 or so photos, mostly from the Wellington region.

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The artist Aidan Wojtas explains:

My exhibition Reo Tū, Reo Ora explores how Wellington would look if Te Reo Māori was again our first language – our reo rangatira. I imagine an alternate future where Te Reo is normalised, our signage is in Te Reo, and English/Reo Pākēhā, although welcome and used, is no longer our default.

Seeds of inspiration have come from a range of places, such as the Four Square in Tokomaru Bay, with its Te Reo Māori only signage, and Ōtaki and Rotorua declaring intent to be a bilingual township and city respectively. More recently for this exhibition, I have taken heart from Wellington’s own Te Reo strategy.

It is my dream that my daughter grows into a world that treasures her language, and that all New Zealanders can benefit from the richness of that world.

Toku reo toku ohooho, toku reo toku māpihi maurea.
Mauri ora!

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Born in the South Island, I’ve lived nearly half my life in Wellington. I balance intellectual, creative and problem-solving interests. I grew up playing with my father’s Olympus cameras so my own interest in photography wasn’t a huge surprise. After doing some wedding photography and a short blip of commercial, I now enjoy having photography projects of my own agenda to work with. By day I work with a team of software specialists helping reform tax systems: photography is a creative outlet that takes me out into the world.

My Te Reo journey is that of a late-bloomer: I’ve been learning Te Reo for several years and currently through Te Ataarangi. My connection to my iwi is recent and a new journey. I have much to learn. I humbly present this project, which stands on the shoulders of the many skilled people who have graciously helped it come to life.

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Thistle Hall
10-6 till 29th, except from midday on ANZAC day.