The Human Rights Commission has joined forces with four kaitiaki organisations in Wairoa to work on a strategy to set the northern Hawke's Bay town on the path to becoming the first bilingual community in New Zealand.
Commission Treaty kaiwhakarite (manager) Bill Hamilton says the initiative was the brainchild of a kura kaupapa in Wairoa, which found that its pupils who learn te reo Maori were being forced to speak English outside the school grounds.
He says despite Wairoa being about 60% Maori, Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa felt their language was being marginalised, so they came up with a plan to mainstream it.
Mr Hamilton says the kura deserves a lot of credit for its initiative and its vision to have Wairoa bilingual by 2040 and it fits in well with this year's human rights theme of "my voice counts".
He says one of the organisations which the kura kaupapa has joined up with is Te Kura Motuhake o Te Ataarangi, which is the community education school for Maori language development.