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September 11, 2017 | by  | in News Splash |
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New name for Te Kōkī

The university, as an integral part of settler-colonial society, has underserved Māori and Indigenous students: the music school is no different. VUW assumed full responsibility of the school in 2014; it used to be a joint venture with Massey University and its initial name was simply “New Zealand Music School”.

Te Kōkī is the name gifted by three prominent Māori academics in 2006 (a request was made only after the school attempted to give itself its own “Māori name”, and ended up with something, shall we say, indelicate…) on the understanding that tikanga and “music school culture” would be integrated.

“Te Kōkī” was removed from the school’s Facebook page earlier this year. Following action from students, the name on Facebook is now “New Zealand School of Music — Te Kōkī, Victoria University of Wellington”, as opposed to the intended “Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music”. Te Kōkī is displayed as a mere subtitle on the webpage.

The change was made without student consultation and despite some academic staff countering those who believe it is good for marketing and not that important.

Salient asked the university to comment on the reasons behind changing the name and the school’s new Director, Professor Sally Jane Norman, responded: “Its full name — Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music — is unwieldy in some contexts but there was a strong wish to retain the name Te Kōkī .”

“Te Kōkī” is regarded by the university as the “non-literal translation” of the school’s name and its initial removal from Facebook was in line with other university schools’ Māori translations.

This is part of a rampant lack of cultural awareness and integration; there was a discussion in  November 2015 of whether there should be a pōwhiri to begin music school orientations. The outcome was: “no, it would be tokenistic.” There was no Māori presence at this meeting.

We have discussed ways forward. We have been patient. But how long must we wait.

Discussions between the new director and Te Kōkī Māori and Pasifika Music Students’ Rōpū have been promising. We look forward to further developments.

 

— Luka רות 林-Cowley (Hamoa, Haina, Ūropi, Hūrai, Ingarani)

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