When I was working in Dunedin, almost three decades ago, I found some people struggled to pronounce my first name correctly.

Anendra (pronounced Ah-nen-drah) quite often came across as Ah-nun-drah or Andrea (to the amusement of my elder daughter who goes by that name) and, believe it or not, a sweet elderly woman in a resthome once called me Fer-nan-dum.

For the best part, most of the people were extremely apologetic and often asked me to articulate it before having a go with mixed success.

I generally sympathised with them and thanked them for making an effort but often wondered why my parents picked a name so outlandish to leave people tongue-tied and sheepish, if not embarrassed.


The upside to that, of course, is three people don't respond simultaneously when someone calls out my name.

I suppose what resonates with me, even now, is how some people say it with a degree of fluency, for which I'm immensely grateful.

However, the tolerance limits are tested when people take the liberty to mutate it to "Andy".

"I can say your name quite well so I expect you to at least make an effort to get mine right," has been my stock reaction to that sort of carry on.

But how do you react to the Matty Johns Show fiasco after it aired a segment called "Footy Kids in Cars" which asked children what they felt was the funniest name in the NRL.

It drew the ire of Ana Tagataese, wife of Cronulla Sharks prop Sam Tagataese, who labelled the Fox Sports show "disrespectful".

Former Kiwi rugby league international Nigel Vagana waded into the debate, calling the show "offensive" and finding merit in the social media outburst of fellow Samoan Ana Tagataese.

On the show, children were offered surnames of Pacific Island players and asked to pronounce them as their parents laughed when they verbally tripped.

A parent was heard saying: "There's [sic] no easy names in there, is [sic] there? Nothing like Ben Smith."

We live in times where people are quick to accuse someone of racism or sexism, depending on what their level of comprehension may be, amid counter-claims of political correctness.

Ana Tagataese didn't hold back, saying "casual racism" isn't okay and fearing her children can become victims of ridicule in the school playgrounds.

Apparently Paramatta Eels' Fiji-born player, Semi Radradra, who made his Kangaroos debut last year, came under intense mockery.

Vagana (pronounced Vaang-ana), whose name broadcasters often mispronounced as "Vargana" or "Vugana", didn't go as far as labelling it racism but called it "insensitive".

As a Pacific Islander, I am reasonably adept at enunciating most names whether they are of Polynesian (Cook Island, Rotuma, Samoa, Tonga etc) or Melanesian (Fiji, Vanuatu, Solomon Islands etc) descent.

But my attitude towards getting names right comes with the territory because misspelling them is among the list of journalistic sins.

Oh, yes, I confess I have committed my share of sins over the years and atoned for them in some way or other so as not to offend people.

When it comes to pronunciation, I make an effort to articulate it the way a culture dictates, never mind the politics.

In the 1992 Summer Olympics, for argument's sake, I learned, ironically from TV commentators, the host city of Spain, Barcelona, is pronounced "Barr-thi-loh-na". Ditto Mexico (mei-hee-koh).

Similarly I prefer Maori names starting with "Wh" with the "f" sound rather than the "wah" derivative - as in Whangarei and Whanganui.

What gets my goat is people who pronounce Tomoana Rd (Toh-moaner), Petane Domain (Pen-ta-nay) and Waikouaiti (Whack-a-white - "I kid you not"), which is a satellite town in East Otago, within the confines of Dunedin city.

Okay, I had just arrived in the country and laughed along with them at the time but is that "casual racism" in stereotyping a particular ethnicity or simply done in jest through ignorance or contempt for having to learn another language?

At this juncture, I hasten to stress I'm aware some of the above can depend on what iwi (tribe) is concerned and, pertaining to Barcelona and Mexico, how some critics feel the English versions are correct because the fault lies with the countries' vernacular inadequacies.

But I digress. My preoccupation is with this part of the world and what transpires in the sporting arena.

Educate people. That's my solution to the problem.

The onus lies with broadcasters, such as Fox Sports and Sky TV, to put their commentators and interviewers through crash courses.

Besides, approaching Pacific Islanders for help shouldn't be a hurdle either.

It isn't hard to grasp the vowel sounds before Pacific Island names - Radradra where the 'n' sound precedes the 'd' (raan-draan-dra) or the 'm' sound before 'b', for example in Sitiveni Rabuka (Raam-boo-kaa).

I have heard Sky Sport commentators mangle the name of Magpies forward Marino Mikaele-Tu'u time and again during the Mitre 10 Cup rugby coverage.

The "that-should-do" attitude doesn't cut it. Don't pass the course then don't go on air because it's a well-paid job.

The reality is almost 50 per cent of NRL players is of Maori or island descent so it shouldn't be shrugged off as "PC". It should actually be a matter of pride and national consciousness.

The Ockers' attitude may well be that players should be grateful they are allowed to earn a living there but doesn't Radradra deserve, at the least, the respect of a correct pronunciation for representing his adopted country?