National's Tama Potaka takes Simeon Brown for korero over Te Reo road signs as Māori MPs break party line

Māori National MPs have broken from the party line saying bilingual road signs are to be welcomed, with one even sitting its transport spokesperson down for an explainer on the matter. 

The National Party clarified its stance on Tuesday, saying no road safety signs should carry Te Reo, something the Government agrees with. 

Nau mai ki Rotorua. Five years ago, the sign was unveiled all in te reo Māori.

But five years on, the National Party has its tongues in a twist about Te Reo road signs. 

"Not opposed to Te Reo, not opposed to bilingual signage per se but it's just the wrong priority," said leader Christopher Luxon. 

Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency is currently consulting on adding Māori to some road signs as they need replacing. 

"We're not spending any extra money on this. This is just as signs come up for replacement," said Prime Minister Chris Hipkins.

National's transport spokesperson Simeon Brown said safety signs should be in English.

"The vast majority of New Zealanders speak English and it's really important that those signs are quickly understandable," said Brown. 

Though not all Nats are on the same page.

"His view's different to mine," said National's Harete Hipango.

So Newshub took one of the proposed bilingual signs to the National Party to see what the fuss was about.

"Well first off you're running, in terms of you're actually driving quite fast, and what you need to do be able to do is to read very quickly," said Judith Collins. 

"Most people understand English," said Brown. 

"Nothing wrong with that sign in my view," said Hipango.

"We don't have an issue with bilingual signage when it comes to place names," said Brown. 

"I can read it, it's fine," said Barbara Kuriger. 

"I could but not everyone is as experienced in driving in New Zealand as me," said Collins.

"You've got a huge amount of people, time and energy being spent doing this rather than fixing potholes," said Luxon.

National's Māori MPs are totally comfortable with Te Reo.

"Quite comfortable having both Māori and English together. I think the English needs to be very clear," said Dr Shane Reti.

"I heard about the comments, I read about them, we've had a korero. Bilingual signs, I am pretty relaxed about them," said Tama Potaka.

"The view that I have is that te reo Māori is an official language of this country," said Hipango.

The National leader was also up in arms about Māori names for government department names last week, saying New Zealanders can't understand things like Waka Kotahi, the transport agency, or Te Whatu Ora, Health NZ.

"When 5 million people speak English in New Zealand, actually being able to name our government departments so they can navigate their government is important," said Luxon.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Rawiri Waititi said: "They assume the rest of New Zealand is as dumb as they are."

The Prime Minister couldn't give us the definition of the Māori agency names on Tuesday.

Asked what does Waka Kotahi mean, Chris Hipkins replied: "It's the NZTA."

But what does it mean? 

"I can't give you a direct translation," Hipkins said.

He argues it doesn't really matter if Kiwis know the translation. 

He asked Newshub what Te Papa mean.

We didn't answer his question.

"You can't tell me. But Te Papa is now commonly used to refer to the museum of New Zealand."

We asked if he knew what it meant.

"I don't know," Hipkins said. 

For the record it means: container of treasures.