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May 8, 2017 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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Te Ara Tauira

Matene Te Whiwhi Rd, Katu Rd, Unaiki Rd, Kakakura Rd, Rauoterangi Rd, Hurumutu Rd, Hokowhitu Rd. 

Most weeks, some news gets us rolling our eyes, and last week was no exception. News arose of the Kapiti Council’s proposed plan to name seven new sections of road, recently built in their rohe. The proposed names, listed above, honour the history of the local rohe, and the legacy and taonga given by the tangata whenua of the area. Some, however, were not so pleased with the proposed plans. Their reasons? The names are “unpronouncable”.

The complaint is one that, unfortunately, is far too common in Aotearoa. Shout out to everyone who has had to correct a teacher’s pronunciation of their name, or spell it out. When we mispronounce, Taupō becomes Tow-poe, and Kawerau becomes Kah-wee-reow. Don’t even get me started on when Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson pulls out his haka in the Fate of the Furious (rolling eyes emoji).

We could talk about two very different issues here. Are New Zealanders uncomfortable with acknowledging the Māori history that inevitably exists in their areas? Or are we just lazy, and unwilling to put effort into trying out Māori pronunciations. I know of kids who have had their names completely destroyed, or a teacher has decided to call them by their Pākehā middle name instead. Such moves are not just lazy, but they remove the mana of an individual.

A short Google into any of the proposed names brings about a rich kōrero and history of Mana Māori. Not that this seems to be of any value to those who have complained about the proposed names. It’s not all perfect, we all slip into lazy pronunciation sometimes (Ar-oh Fish and Chip Shop anyone?) but to dismiss these names as an inconvenience is absolutely unacceptable Aotearoa. Instead of dismissing these names, how about we start teaching our tamariki more Te Reo in schools? Just a thought whānau. Ngā mihi.

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