It’s more than a mouthful but sign writers will do a brisk business as we adopt new Maori place names

How te reo can be enriching for sign writers…

What’s in a name?

Don’t ask Alf. Ask Auckland Mayor Len Brown.

The bugger has come out all warm and fuzzy in response to news that Rangitoto Island could be in for a name change.

Rangitoto is a word most of us can handle without too much trouble.

But why make things easy for the majority of the population when you can make them much more challenging?

And so Rangitoto may officially be known as Te Rangi-i-Tongia-a-Tamatekapua as part of the Crown’s deal to restore Maori ownership of volcanic cones and some Hauraki Gulf islands.

It’s also part of a growing fashion for favouring the complex over the easy.

News of the latest abandonment of geographic simplicity is reported in the NZ Herald (here).

The newspaper tells us Mayor Brown’s response to the plan to make life much more cumbersome by listing the original name for official occasions was enthusiastic.

“It may not easily transfer to common usage but this is a great recognition of our local history,” he said on Twitter.

The buggers who have requested the name change – or did they demand it? – presumably are in the sign-writing business.

Accordingly they stand to significantly lift their revenues.

Much more lettering – longer signposts and more paint too – will be needed to point us to Motutapu Island as well as to Rangitoto.


Yep. Alf can handle that.

So let’s make it tough for him and for around 85 per cent of the population while we fawn over the treaty and the obligations we imagine it heaps on us.

And so –

Motutapu’s Island’s original Maori name of Te Motu-tapu-a-Tinirau is also sought in the deed for presentation to a group of 12 Auckland iwi and hapu known as the Tamaki Collective. The deed is published on the Office of Treaty Settlements website.

When the deed is signed, the Minister for Treaty of Waitangi negotiations must write to the NZ Geographic Board requesting that the board list original Maori names for designated places.

The board, of course, eventually will be better known as Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa.

Oh, and Rangitoto’s summit and peaks will become Nga Pona-toru-a-Peretu.

Does any of this change serve a practical purpose?

Of course not.

Dunno how they are going to fit the new place names on a map.

With great difficulty, obviously.

Or in such a small typeface that nobody will be able to read it.

But obviously it will mollify our special citizens, but only until they hear we Pakeha struggling to pronounce the new place names properly.

At that time we can expect to hear we Pakeha denounced for not showing te reo and our indigenous people proper respect.

Another thing.

The profound mischief of co-governance comes into the deal, enabling the Tamaki Collective to throw a bit more political weight around.

The Government agreed two years ago that 14 maunga – or volcanic cones – including Maungakiekie/One Tree Hill, Maungawhau/Mt Eden and Owairaka/Mt Albert, would be vested in the collective and the cones would be co-governed by a body made up of the collective, Auckland Council and Crown representatives.

The council would manage the cones.

On Maungauika/North Head Historic Reserve, the Department of Conservation will continue as manager.

A sign of the times, eh?

And so we are creating a sign-writer’s paradise.

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