How many can read this?
What about this?

by Deborah Alexander

These are two signs at different Gisborne beach entrances. Both are warning signs: one in English and one in Te Reo. These signs are not next to each other and depending on which entrance is used you get different signs. 

Which works better as a sign communicating the danger that the logs create?

Which language effectively communicates the required message?

How many people would understand both signs?

If we have a sign with the view of communicating a message it needs to be as clear as possible at communicating to whoever reads it. Therefore if one language is to be used it should be the language that communicates most effectively.

If we have Te Reo and English they need to be together.

And given English is the language that is understood by almost everybody, English words should appear first.

There is a problem with the Maori translation too:


I have translated online as follows:



The sea is still unclean and the beach by the logs

There’s a problem with slowly, and do not come near the palms [logs] in the sea.

It does not simply say: DANGER! DO NOT PLAY ON THE LOGS.

I am horrified at this craziness.

If anyone suggests I used the wrong translation app then it just highlights that Te Reo should definitely not be used as there are so many differing word translations for just one word and so adds to ambiguity.

Translation Information:

Kia Tupato: be careful, or prudent, prudish, be indifferent, be careless, beware, be puzzled…

Me Mataara: Watch out

e pokea tonutia te moana: The sea is still unclean

me te takutai e nga poro rakau: and the beach by the logs

OR if you type the whole sentence:

e pokea tonutia te moana me te takutai e nga poro rakau

English Translation: The sea and the coast are tightly.
 kei aitua me ata haere” English Translation:  There is a problem with slowly; me kaua hoki e whakatata atu ki nga poro rakau ki ro moana” English Translation: and do not come near the palms in the sea