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Kura School traffic signs consultation

Submissions for this consultation have now closed. 

Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency consulted on the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices (Kura/School Signs) Amendment 2021 (proposed Rule) and the changes it would make to the Land Transport Rule: Traffic Control Devices 2004 (the TCD Rule).

The exact text for most traffic signs is set out in the TCD Rule. Except in specific circumstances, these words are in English. Some signs show names in te reo Māori like Whakatāne or Marae.

The proposed Rule would amend the TCD rule to specify changes to a number of school signs and create a new permanent school speed sign that uses the words kura and school to make the signs bilingual.

Having both English and te reo Māori together on traffic signs is not a new idea, signs have been on our roads for over 20 years but there are very few of them.

There is an opportunity to introduce bilingual school signs in conjunction with the proposed Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2021 (the proposed Speed Rule) that will see new school speed limits implemented from early 2022 and will require councils to set lower speed limits for 40 percent of their schools by 30 June 2024, and the remaining schools by 31 December 2029.

Introducing Kura School signs with the proposed Speed Rule presents a significant opportunity to see more te reo Māori on traffic signs across Aotearoa New Zealand within the next few years.

Traffic signs need to be safe and effective. Their design, complexity and length all have an impact on reading comprehension and driver performance. Waka Kotahi has researched overseas experience with bilingual traffic signs, and considered guidance from Te Puni Kōkiri in developing proposals. 

Research note on bilingual traffic signage

Consultation documents

Feedback closed Friday 17 December 2021.

Frequently asked questions

Why are you only looking at school signs?

This is part of a programme of work Waka Kotahi is undertaking, with help from the Ministry of Transport, to support the use of te reo Māori on traffic signs in Aotearoa New Zealand. Behind this mahi is a vision of seeing te reo Māori seen, heard and spoken.

There are over 580 traffic signs in the Traffic Control Device (TCD) Rule, and around 380 of these have text so the process to consider, and incorporate te reo Māori on these signs (where appropriate), is a long-term programme of work that we are tackling in two phases:

  • Phase 1: identify, consider, and enable a prioritised selection of bilingual signs by the end of 2023.
  • Phase 2: undertake a process to consider and, where appropriate, implement the rest of the signs from 2024.

As part of the early work in Phase 1, we have identified an opportunity to implement a bilingual Kura School sign ahead of the rest for the prioritised selection.

The proposed Land Transport Rule: Setting of Speed Limits 2021 will enable new school speed limits to be implemented (if passed) from early 2022. Aligning the timing of these changes helps to maximise the existing funding and implementation resources already set aside by Road Controlling Authorities for the new speed limit signs.

There are over 2,500 schools across New Zealand, so this is a significant opportunity to expose all New Zealanders (eg tamariki, whānau, communities) to te reo Māori through traffic signs ahead of the prioritised selection of bilingual signs by the end of 2023.  

Are bilingual traffic signs safe?

While there are perceptions of bilingual signs impacting road safety, we have been unable to find data to support this. Bilingual signs have not led to increased deaths and serious injuries (DSIs) where this has been measured (for example in Scotland). Much of the effect on driving performance seems to be the result of sign complexity, which can be mitigated through effective design (font, italics, position and colour), maintaining best practice font sizing, and by limiting the amount of information on each sign.

We have carefully considered the international experience and outcomes in the development of our proposed Kura School signs.

Research note on bilingual traffic signage

How often are road signs replaced?

The life of a traffic sign can vary significantly, with some operating for over 30 years.

We are proposing that the Kura School signs are introduced either when new signs are needed (eg when a new road is built) or when existing signs need to be replaced (eg due to vandalism, damage, poor reflective sheeting).

Where is the money coming from to pay for the signs?

The cost of traffic signs for Road Controlling Authorities is subsidised through the National Land Transport Fund.

How much will it cost?

The proposed Speed Rule will require new permanent speed signs around schools from early 2022. This proposed Rule is about ensuring that these new signs are bilingual, therefore the additional cost is adding te reo Māori text. Not all Kura School signs will need to be bigger and are not expected to cost more (eg ‘School Zone’ being replaced with ‘Kura School’ has no additional cost).