LEADING THE WAY: Taneatua Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Lawrence Richardson with the brigade’s new bilingual fire truck. Photo Troy Baker D7776-01

TANEATUA’S firetruck is one of the first in New Zealand to be sign-written in te reo Maori.
Six brigades around the country have had trucks rebranded, with Taneatua having the honour of being the first volunteer brigade.

“Having te reo branding fits our community well because of our population base,” said Taneatua fire chief Lawrence Richardson.

“It shows a changing New Zealand, we’ve got to support all aspects of the community and the more we can the better off we are.”

The truck now has “ahi” for fire across the front and “rauora” for rescue across the side as well as a new macron above the first “a” in Taneatua. It also features poutama wrapped around the its front corners, these are traditional Maori patterns which represent progression and a constant striving to do better.

“There’s not a specific korero around it, but it shows progression and learning as you climb the steps,” said firefighter Te Mauri Apiata.

“As firefighters you progress, you begin as a recruit and make your way up.”

Mr Apiata believes having rauora across the side is important as it better reflects the type of mahi the firefighters engage in.

“We’re not just about the fires now, we attend far more medical events than we do fires,” he said.

“We’re also out at the car crashes so to have rauora across there is more accurate.”

The bilingual fire truck has received good feedback from the community and has already been on its first call out, a car fire in Waimana.

As a tier-two station the Taneatua brigade usually gets second-hand equipment from other brigades so to get a brand-new truck and to be one of the first with bilingual signage is special.

As aging equipment in other brigades across the country is replaced it is expected they too will join the Taneatua brigade with bilingual signage.