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August 6, 2018 | by  | in Ngāi Tauira |
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NT: Te Ara Tauira

“Kia Ora, is there a ‘Jaaa-yne’ in this class? Is that how you say it?”
“It’s pronounced ‘Jane’.”
“Jeeeeyn. Is that right?”
“Sort of. It’s J-A-N-E, Jane”
“Can we just call you ‘J’?”
For every other Tom, Dick, and Harry this is not a usual encounter when meeting a new person. However, for every Tame, Eruera, and Henare this experience is an expected one, when interacting with new classmates, co-workers, and teachers. But sometimes saying a Māori name is hard, right? Why should we bother with such a tedious task?
This statement from the campaign My Name, My Identity explains:
“We receive our names from beloved family members or special people who are close to our family. When our name is changed or unintentionally mispronounced, it is a misrepresentation of who we are — because our name represents our identity.”
When a teacher (or lecturer) does not make the effort to correctly pronounce their students’ names, it can affect the relationship between that student and teacher. Why respect someone who doesn’t even respect your name? The negative relationship between student and teacher can further hinder the student’s ability to learn. Mispronouncing someone’s name, and being unwilling to learn how to say a name correctly, is a form of subtle racism or microaggression, and when it comes from teachers, the subtle racism instilled within the classroom.
When you allow yourself to become ignorant to these kinds of “small issues”, you become a bystander of racism. So, if all it takes to help Māori tauira perform better in school is pronouncing Tame, Eruera, and Henare correctly, is it really such a tedious task?

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