Unemployment among the Maori people of Porirua obviously has increased, and those without work have been keeping themselves busy by dreaming up provocative ways of pissing off their fellow pakeha citizens.
Alf draws this conclusion after learning there’s a push on to pepper place names around Porirua with macrons.
That’s not exactly how the plan has been introduced in a press statement from the Porirua City Council.
Nope. The council says that in the lead-up to Māori Language Week, several Māori have made submissions to Porirua City to support the Māori Language in local Māori place names.
This surprised Alf, who thought there were plenty of Maori names in the city already, including Michael Campbell Drive.
Let’s see. There’s Mana, and Titahi Bay, and Pauatahanui.
But silly old Alf missed the point.
It’s all about bloody macrons, which some Maori in Porirua reckon should be slipped into those place names.
Council asked for public feedback during June, and the feedback period closed last Friday (see http://www.pcc.govt.nz/pages/Home/News—Events/Public-Consultation/Formalisation-of-Suburb-Names-and-Boundaries).
Several submissions were made, supporting two changes:
– to include macrons in Māori names where appropriate e.g. Pāuatahanui, Rānui, Paekākāriki, but no macron in Mana.
– to use bilingual names for current English names, like is done with Taranaki / Egmont and Mt Aoraki / Cook.
Macrons have been adopted by the Electoral Commission for several electorates such as Māngere and Tāmaki, so the submitters hope that the Porirua Council will adopt a similar policy.
The whānau in Porirua have also let tangata whenua know that they are making these submissions in support of local names.
Alf confesses to becoming bewildered at this juncture.
Who exactly are the whanau (resplendent with their own macron) and how are they distinguished from the tangata whenua?
Obviously he has much to learn.
That goes for his knowledge of bloody macrons, too.
The fascination for macrons in the name of cultural propriety fascinates him, because he suspects the indigenous people of this country had no knowledge of them until the Europeans turned up.
Actually, macrons are all Greek to Alf, which is understandable because at Wikipedia he learned:
A macron, from Greek μακρόv (makrón) meaning “long”, is a diacritic placed over or under a vowel, originally used to mark a long (i.e., heavy) syllable in Græco-Roman metrics, but now also indicates that the vowel is long. (The opposite is a breve ˘, used to indicate originally a short syllable and now also a short vowel.) Distinctions between long and short vowels are usually phonemic. In the International Phonetic Alphabet the macron is used to indicate mid tone; the sign for a long vowel is a modified triangular colon.
So why do the whanau (with a macron) of Porirua want to further complicate our lives, which already have become too complex for the likes of Alf, by throwing macrons across the geogropahical landscape?
And just how infectious is the urge to inject Greek squiggles into the language?
Where does the macron go in Eketahuna?
And other such profound questions.
But some sense (small) can be made of the push to give us macrons and double-jointed place names like Taranaki / Egmont . It’s that lots of signwriters will be needed to rewrite all the signs around the city, and plenty of other work will be generated in making the change.
Hence the buggers who dreamt up this idea will soon be back in work.
When gainfully re-employed – all going well – they will have no time to tamper with daft demands for needless change. Not until the next recession.