‘Manu’ – A Sign of Great Community Engagement


Press, Team



‘Manu’ – A Sign of Great Community Engagement

When I posted my recent blog on the changing cities of Aotearoa, New Zealand, I wasn’t expecting the interest I had in a unique Māori word, ‘Manu’. Questions on LinkedIn from confused colleagues in Australia and inquiries from our Canadian team, so I thought I had better explain.

So, what does manu mean? It’s Māori for bird, but in this case It’s basically a giant leap into the water from a rock or pier, like a super-powered giant bomb. And yes, we even have a New Zealand National Championship. Check out the footage of one of our legends, Dan Tahere, in action HERE

While I love manus, I don’t really make that much of a splash. What I really like about this sign is its unique approach to community engagement. A very Aotearoa, New Zealand approach.

Firstly, the language. It’s the perfect blend of English and Māori. It is friendly and gets its point across without being too authoritative – it reads as a pretty sensible request. It perfectly sums up the way most Kiwis want to be interacted with and the way we talk to each other.

In other countries, the language would be more aggressive. Bright red, probably a red circle with a diagonal line, a stick person doing a manu and the words NO JUMPING emblazoned across it.

Now, there will always be an argument about the best way to engage stakeholders in potentially dangerous situations, but what is worth noting is that where this sign was, there were no mean bomb skills on display. And while I enjoyed a coffee, a little bit disappointed that there wouldn’t be accompanying manus, it did get me thinking.

So, I headed along the quay towards Taranaki Street Wharf and the jump platforms, and my fellow Kiwis didn’t disappoint as a group of potential future national champions displayed their mean bomb skills where they should be.

Ultimately, that’s my point: to engage with communities, you must speak their language. Now, I appreciate that there is always a need in dangerous environments for clear, direct and highly visible signage. But, maybe if the signage is about changing behaviour or getting people to do the right thing, we could be a little bit more friendly and engaging because, from what I saw in Wellington, it works.