Editorial: Name change doesn't roll easily off tongue

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The sun rises over Rangitoto Island as a runner heads through the shallow water at low tide on Cheltenham Beach. Photo / Sarah Ivey
The sun rises over Rangitoto Island as a runner heads through the shallow water at low tide on Cheltenham Beach. Photo / Sarah Ivey

If Maori names are being used, they should, as a matter of respect, be used properly in official communication. Therefore, Mayor Len Brown has rightly welcomed the pending change of the name of Auckland's best-known landmark to Te Rangi-i-Tongia-a-Tamatekapua.

As a consequence of the Crown's deal with 12 iwi and hapu to restore Maori ownership of volcanic cones and some Hauraki Gulf islands, Rangitoto will, for official occasions at least, become obsolete.

The name change has yet to be confirmed by the NZ Geographic Board, but that should be a formality.

Rangitoto was derived from the proposed name, which means "the day the blood of Tamatekapua was shed" in recognition of the wounding of the captain of the Arawa waka during a fight with the Tainui iwi. Likewise, Motutapu will become known as Te Motu-tapu-a-Tinirau.

New Zealanders' preparedness in recent years to acknowledge and use Maori place names has been refreshing. But, as Mr Brown acknowledges, Te Rangi-i-Tongia-a-Tamatekapua will not transfer so readily or easily into common use.

If Aucklanders continue to refer to Rangitoto that does not necessarily detract from this official recognition - just as Hawkes Bay locals refer to Taumatatawhakatatangihangakoauauotamateapokaiwhenuakitanatahu as Taumata.

- NZ Herald

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