To mark te wiki o te reo Māori, Te Tauaarangi o Aotearoa (the Royal New Zealand Air Force) and Te Mana Rererangi Tūmatanui o Aotearoa (the Civil Aviation Authority) have banded together to encourage all pilots to pronounce Māori place names correctly in their radio calls.
“There is a safety element in making sure everyone understands where a pilot is when they broadcast a position at low level, ” said Wing Commander Tim Costley, Commanding Officer of the Air Force’s Flying Training Wing, which trains all new military aircrew.
“In New Zealand aviation we have ‘visual reporting points’ which are prominent geographical points or places that pilots use to let other pilots know exactly where they are when flying at low level. This helps pilots to build a picture in their mind of other traffic so they can avoid each other safely,” he said.
“If we don’t understand where a pilot is because they use a different pronunciation, or a local abbreviation that most pilots won’t recognise, it can lead to confusion in the air, which ultimately can jeopardise safety.
“This can be a problem. I remember flying around New Zealand hearing pilots report being at ‘Bob’s shed’ or ‘the green barn’ and not knowing how close they were to me. The same issue can arise in te reo Māori.
“Ultimately we just need to know the position of every aircraft that could be near us in the sky. Confusion could be disastrous.
“Safety underpins everything we do. Setting the same high standards in the use of te reo Māori as we do in other flight safety procedures is another step in meeting that responsibility.”
To read more about why pronouncing te reo Māori VRPs is so important to aviation safety and to hear how some te reo Māori visual reporting points are pronounced, go to www.aviation.govt.nz/about-us/media-releases/show/Pronouncing-Te-Reo-VRPs(external link)