Friday, June 19, 2009

is our name us New Zealand?

I like the idea of French Polynesians picking a new name for themselves:

"Oscar Temaru has been campaigning for a name change in French Polynesia to symbolise increased independence from France, but his suggested alternative has caused ripples among some.

Temaru has put forward Maohi Nui, a name that refers to the indigenous people of French Polynesia in the language of the archipelago’s most famous island, Tahiti.

But inhabitants of another island group, Marquesas Islands, know Maohi as a raunchy word for touching a woman’s sexual parts, Tahiti-Pacifique magazine publisher Alex du Prel said. “For Tahitians it is a fine word, but for Marquesans it is very sexual and not really the type of name you want to have to symbolise your country," du Prel said."

I'd imagine we'll have similar arguements here, when the name of this country gets changed.

I know, I know... but it will happen.

And I'm not disrespecting anyone who has died for this country. The didn't die for the name, they died for the country. The name of the country does have connotations, obviously, but what is the name 'New Zealand' saying about us? Is the name New Zealand so important in its own right, that we can't change it? And if it's too hard to contemplate changing the name - what is that saying about us?

I'm pretty clear in what I believe.

We won't be a proper country until we do change our name. And change it to a maori name that reflects the status of maori as tangata whenua and the indigenous people of this land. The name "New Zealand" is a yoke that is holding us back. I'm not against some combination name to reflect the reality of our bicultural society. I just would like the bigger 'bi' in bicultural to be on the maori side, not the other.

Changing the name will change the mindset, change the paradigm. It will be a big, agonising for some, liberating for all, eventually, step towards making this country achieve its potential.

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