Māori agency Toi Tangata has commended the efforts by Ngati Kahungunu to normalise te reo Māori by using it in food outlets.

Hastings McDonald’s has become the first in the country to introduce bilingual menus, written in English and Māori, and there are plans to roll it out to all McDonald’s restaurants across Hawke’s Bay.

However, the Auckland-based health and wellbeing agency is now calling for wider conversations to be had amongst iwi, Māori organisations and Māori communities when it comes to normalising te reo Māori use in fast food outlets.

Toi Tangata CEO Megan Tunks, questioned the promotion of te reo Māori at fast food establishments.

“We recognise that having spaces where we can practise and normalise te reo is both absolutely necessary and desired, but we need to make more conscious decisions on the impacts of our oranga. It is our obligation as an organisation to ensure whānau are informed of healthier eating options and the potentially negative impact of fast food outlets,” Tunks said.

Toi Tangata claimed clear messages needed to be sent about health and well-being to whānau, communities and especially tamariki.

“We need to strike the balance between normalising our beautiful language and ensuring it is used in a positive and uplifting way.”

The agency believed Māori organisations and communities needed to look at opportunities to increase health and supportive kai environments which promote and grow te reo.

A small number of Māori food outlets across New Zealand have started the trend, including Kākano cafe in Otautahi and Koha Kai in Murihiku.

“We should be looking at how we support our Māori economy, including local social enterprises that promote healthy kai,” Tunks said.