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Source: UnderTow Media

21 Mahuru 2020: Customers may have noticed more te reo Māori during their supermarket shop last week but can rest assured it won’t be disappearing now that Te Wiki o te Reo Māori has come to an end.

Committed to increasing the use of te reo, Countdown made some changes to the way it communicated with its customers and team for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori including in TV ads and across its online shopping platform, customer communications, and in-store radio.

Countdown’s team of 20,000 Kiwis also celebrated in a big way through singing waiata over the PA systems, posting videos encouraging each other to give te reo a go and by cooking traditional Māori kai to share in team lunchrooms.  

Kiri Hannifin, Countdown’s General Manager Corporate Affairs, Safety and Sustainability, says as one of the country’s largest employers, the company is proud to support the use of te reo throughout the year, not just for Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

“Our whole team are very proud of how we’re helping to incorporate more te reo into everyday life, given the vast majority of Kiwis visiting a supermarket at least once a week,” Kiri says.  

“We’ve had a lot of feedback over the years about our department names in te reo Māori – it wasn’t all positive to start with, but that’s definitely changing. It’s a real sign of the resurgence and care for te reo that now our customers want and expect to see more from us.

“It’s been fantastic to be able to introduce more and more te reo during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori and, with both our customers and team loving the changes, we’re looking forward to keeping a number of these initiatives going throughout the year,” says Kiri.

Countdown’s popular Super Insects collectibles promotion has also played a big part in the changes. For the six-week campaign, Countdown’s online virtual assistant Olive has been replaced by Āwhina the Giant Wētā whose name translates to ‘to help’. As well as helping customers find recipes, products and customer services information, Āwhina is schooling up Kiwis on simple kupu (words) related to shopping like te tono (order), whakahokinga pūtea (refund) and toa ā ipurangi (online shop). Following the promotion, Olive will continue using and expanding her Māori vocabulary.

Along with Olive’s extending vocabulary and the strong incorporation of te reo in its Super Insects promotion, Countdown will continue to use Māori greetings and sign-offs in its customer communications, translated digital mailer headlines, and the te reo Māori in-store radio message will continue to be played throughout the year.  

“It’s important to us that we continue to embrace this taonga, which is truly unique to New Zealand. At Countdown our mantra is that we can help with that – mā matou koe e āwhina. With our 20,000 team members and three million weekly customers, we hope our efforts can help make a difference to the everyday use of te reo Māori, one of Aotearoa’s most precious taonga.”

About Countdown

Countdown is one of New Zealand’s largest employers with 20,000 team members across 183 supermarkets, distribution centres, processing plants and support offices. We serve around 3 million customers every week and work with thousands of food producers and suppliers throughout New Zealand. We’re committed to being part of the communities we live and work in: some of our activities include Countdown Food Rescue which donates more than $5.2 million of food each year to The Salvation Army and other food rescue groups and foodbanks. Through the Countdown Food for Good Foundation we also provide local funding and sponsorship to help Kiwis thrive by building a stronger, healthier New Zealand for the future.