Wellington City Council covers new signs on Southern Walkway while waiting for OK from local iwi
Wellington residents are being reassured by the city council that bigots are not to blame for the covering up of Te Reo on new signs on the city's Southern Walkway.
The direction signs for the walk, which starts at Oriental Bay and follows the ridge line to Houghton Bay, were installed by the council before Christmas.
Walkers with keen eyes spotted the signs had the Maori name of the trail covered carefully in pink tape, and posted on social media, prompting some people to blame racists.
But Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said the phrase had been covered up by the council while it double-checked the wording was accurate with the Port Nicholson Block Settlement Trust (PNBST).
An administration oversight meant the signs had been installed without the council double checking with the trust that the phrase was appropriate, and the stickers were slapped on while the matter was sorted out.
"Te Ranga-a-Hiwi is the old name for the entire ridge that runs from Pt Jermingham to Houghton Bay ... so there was some initial discussion about whether the signs might be read as a translation of the phrase of Southern Walkway, when in fact it's not."
The council was possibly being overcautious in checking with PNBST, but wanted to get it right.
"The people who put [the signs] up didn't see a problem, then there was a discussion because generally speaking we like to involve local iwi in decision making and issues like this."
Because of the time of the year it was taking longer than usual to get that confirmation from PNBST.
It would be easy to change the signs if necessary, with an adhesive layer over the top of what was there, but the council was hoping it would not have to happen.
"It's been a bit of an administration hiccup, if push comes to shove it's not going to cost a significant amount of money to fix the situation.
"We can assure the people of Wellington there is not some bigot with a roll of tape running around in the town belt, as some people assumed earlier in the week," MacLean said.