Billingual menu creates great kōrero

7:57 am on 8 October 2015

A Wellington restaurant that launched a bilingual menu using English and Te Reo Māori says it is encouraging some diners to order their kai in Māori.

Ika mata tāmure tuangi: snapper and clam ceviche, served with pickled fennel, avocado and kumara crisps.

Ika mata tāmure tuangi (snapper and clam ceviche) is among items on the menu. Photo: RNZ / Eru Rerekura

In April, Whitebait restaurant director Louise Hoather, who is Pākehā, decided to translate the names of the dishes into Māori.

Besides iwi-owned Wharewaka, Whitebait is the only eatery in the capital that has billingual menu using both Māori and English.

Ms Hoather said it has created a really good talking point for a lot of diners, especially for foreign visitors wanting to know more about Māori culture.

And she said it has even inspired some customers to order their food in Māori.

"Some diners have been quite curious and wanted to know why we're doing this," she said.

"Most diners have really embraced what we are trying to do and have talked with the staff about how to pronounce the translations.

"Some of our guests have actually tried to place their orders in Te Reo."

Ms Hoather said they have built up a good rapport with Māori translators, who have to sometimes translate culinary terms which are either in French or Italian.

"I think for all of our savoury dishes on the menu it was probably a lot easier," she said.

"But, in the first draft that we did we didn't translate any of the desserts... I think because in that section of the menu there are sometimes a number of especially French or Italian terms that are commonly used in pastry making, we had to work out how we would describe the dish and how to translate it."

Ms Hoather said her staff have been enthusiastic about learning how to pronounce the Māori words and are getting lots of training.

She said she is happy with the feedback and the staff are really surprised at how well it has been received.

Ms Hoather said it is helping her and her staff to think about how they can add more Te Reo into their work.

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