Ōtaki Surf Life Saving Club translates website into Māori to better represent community

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

With a desire to be more representative and inclusive of the community they serve, the Ōtaki Surf Life Saving Club in Kāpiti has made their website bilingual, with content on their homepage now in both English and te reo Māori.

"We've been serving the Ōtaki community forever, and I just felt like we needed to be a bit more representative of the town that we represent," club committee member and publicity officer Nikki Lundie said.

When the club's committee was asked to come up with innovative ideas aimed at improving their service to the public and how best to guide the club, Nikki saw an opportunity for the club to be more representative of the community they serve.

"With this project we have the ability to connect and communicate more effectively by including te reo Māori on our website and other marketing material.

"We have an amazing mix of members within our club with a number of te reo-speaking members."

Wanting to find the right person to do the translating, local translator Hēni Jacob was recommended.

"While we had a budget to use for this project she didn't want to charge because she wanted it to be her contribution towards the club which has been amazing – it's a reflection of the amazing community that we serve."

The first part of the project involved translating the name of the club into te reo because there was no direct translation for "surf life saving".

With three main recommendations from Hēni, the club chose Te Puni Kaumaru o Ōtaki.

"We ran it past a couple of our Māori-speaking club members and agreed that this translation really rolled off the tongue compared to the other options," Nikki said.

"It was the most easily pronounced translation of surf life saving."

Broken down, puni has been used for club as it is a term for a band of people who work together for a kaupapa/case and kaumaru is the term chosen for surf lifesaver as a contraction of kau and haumaru and the fuller te kaukau i runga i te haumaru, meaning to swim safely/swim in safety.

Also decided upon was the term toa kaumaru for surf lifesaver.

So far just the homepage has been completed, with the goal being to make the whole site bilingual.

"We have a lot of families who are bilingual, many that speak English at the club but who would speak Māori at home.

"We're doing this to be more inclusive to include the Māori population of Ōtaki that don't know what we do as a surf lifesaving club and feel extremely lucky to be working with Hēni and would like to acknowledge her generous support for this very worthy project."

Ōtaki volunteer lifeguard Josh Housiaux, a Māori speaker said, "I'm proud to be part of a club that is progressive, it's a very positive step for our club and the community we serve.

"Hopefully, this leads to more members for our club and contributes to better water safety outcomes.

"It would be great to see many more clubs and community groups following suit."

Surf Life Saving NZ chief executive Paul Dalton said Ōtaki Surf Life Saving Club's actions in creating a bilingual site are aspirational.

"While I am aware some clubs have looked at making aspects of their online material bilingual, I don't think any other club has gone as far as their entire website.

"We think it's great the club is taking the initiative, and SLSNZ fully supports it."

He said while it was unlikely SLSNZ could follow suit right now because of the sheer amount of information on its website, its focus is on reaching as many people as possible with water safety messaging.

"As we go forward I suspect the 80/20 rule will be more effective for us, with a focus on the public-facing aspects, such as safety messaging."

Making the surf life saving messages available for everyone has never been more important after a summer full of water incidents.

Ōtaki alone has had one of its busiest seasons already, despite weekend patrols still set to continue until March 6.

This season they've had four rescues and 614 assists involving 1020 people.

Members of the club also helped out as part of the call-out squad for search and rescue with the Manawatū River drownings on January 2.

"We've had a really bad summer countrywide for statistics and are very focused as a club on those preventative actions - constantly scanning the beach, moving the flags away from where the rips and holes are, and education - people often underestimate the power of the ocean," Nikki said.

"Our key messages that we are keen to get out there is for people to know their limits, swim between the flags and check the conditions."

Check out the website here.

Article and images from NZ Herald - Kapiti News