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STAFF REPORTER

The Waimate District Council is opening the door for te reo and sign language submissions to its long-term plan this month.

Mayor Craig Rowley said while traditionally submissions were given in English, this year those speaking to the council would have the option of presenting their submission in te reo Maori or New Zealand Sign Language.

“We’ve come to expect that some Waimate residents wish to present their submissions verbally and it has always been in English.

“What we’re doing now is offering alternative ways so that residents who are more comfortable communicating in either te reo or sign are given an opportunity to speak to council.”

He said if a resident chose either of the new options, arrangements would be made with an appropriate translator so everyone could understand what was said and questions from councillors could be be translated and answered.

The public consultation period for the long-term plan ends at 4pm on May 16 and hearings are scheduled for May 29.

“People wishing to present their submission verbally in te reo or sign can do this at our scheduled hearings as long as we have enough forewarning to make arrangements.”

In another first, the council is holding its meeting and citizenship ceremony at the Waihao marae on May 22.

It is the initiative of deputy mayor Sharyn Cain, after she attended a young elected members local government retreat.

“There was a strong focus to encourage more councils to work with their local maraes to give both council and the public an opportunity to engage with local iwi, and learn about Maori culture.”

Waihao marae chairman Graeme Lane said the marae was pleased to host the meeting and citizenship ceremony, and hoped it would be the first of many meetings held there.