Sunday, April 5, 2009

Whanganui forever


Michael Laws lays out his case in the SST for the rejection of the H being added to Whanganui.
Sorry Michael, my comments in red

"... The facts of the matter are well established. Maori did not have a written language when Pakeha settlers and missionaries arrived in this country. Their oral language had a number of distinct and geographically different dialects. As a consequence, the early transcription of the Maori language picked up some of those inflections and dialects. Wanganui was one - where the so- called silent 'h' not only was not sounded, but it did not exist. It couldn't. No written language existed. The sound existed Michael even though it was hard to represent with clumsy english letters.
And so local Maori did not object - in 1830, 1840 or 1850 - when the written "Wanganui" was created. It was as the ear - Maori and Pakeha - heard it. They might have other concerns - like surviving.
But then something else happened. Common usage gave the word its own meaning, its own identity, its own mana. Sorry Michael you can't take a maori concept that derives from maori experience, identity and worldview, and appropriate it to bolster your argument. The fact is that common usage has not given the misspelled name mana. Even had a written language existed, 170 years of use and heritage created this identity that we now know as "Wanganui". One might argue that the word is derived from Maori - and now our city and district transcends its lexicographical origins. So, 170 years have created the identity of Wanganui and because of that, the name deserves to remain. Just one big glaring problem - why not apply the same argument to the original inhabitants, that lived loved and died in Whanganui for 1000 or so years. Why are your rights more important than theirs? 1000 years of use and heritage created the identity of Whanganui not the last 170 years.
Generation after generation of Wanganui people have been born, schooled, have worked, loved, lost, created families and died with this shared heritage of a common place and a common name. It is as much non-Maori birthright as it is Maori. No one ethnicity can demand a precedence - it is our shared experience and heritage... " As above Michael, as above.

The real problem is that Michael and others always percieve any movement towards maoritanga as exclusive and seperating when the truth is that it is inclusive, expansive and connecting.

Michael did raise some interesting points in his rant. Of interest was the makeup of the NZ Geographic Board.

Ms Sylvia Allan
Dr Sir Tipene O'Regan
Dr Wharehuia Milroy
Mr David Barnes
Dr Kay Booth
Dr Apirana Mahuika
Professor Michael Roche
Mr David Mole (LINZ official)

Members are nominated or recommended by the following:
Federated Mountain Clubs
New Zealand Geographical Society
Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu
Minister of Māori Affairs
Minister for Land Information
Local Goverment New Zealand."

Great to see Ngai Tahu there.

Finally, this is what this board does, and this:

"Last April the board ditched a proposal to rename Mt Aspiring/Tititea several variations of Hillary's name, including Mt Hillary/Tititea or Tititea/Mt Hillary or Mt Sir Edmund Hillary/Tititea or Tititea/Mt Sir Edmund Hillary."

If names need be changed I say they should only and always go to the maori name.

1 comment:

HappyzineCharlotte said...

I agree. Just to respond in very general terms, the rest of Aotearoa is pouring energy into getting it right with te reo, why should Whanganui be the exception, just because a few people feel attached to a name that was borne from a mistake? Correcting the name of this town is about consistency, and about respect for te reo.