Wednesday, March 1, 2023

Deaf to everything but their own righteousness

I woke up yesterday morning to hear an RNZ newsreader refer to something that had happened in Kirikiriroa. That’s a name that’s almost as hard to type as it is to pronounce, but that’s not the point.

To my knowledge, no one has asked the residents of Hamilton whether they approve of their city’s name being changed. My guess is that they don’t – but hey, only 10 percent of the population want the country renamed Aotearoa, and that hasn’t stopped newsreaders, weather forecasters, reporters, politicians and academics using it as a substitute for New Zealand.

I’ve yet to hear anyone use Kirikiriroa in everyday conversation. Until relatively recently, few people had even heard of the name. But the political/academic/media cabal that controls the national conversation has decreed that henceforth, that's how Hamilton is to be known.

This is an act of colossal arrogance and conceit by a self-ordained priesthood that regards itself as being above democracy and accountable to no one. 

What’s more, it’s not even honest. It's true there was once a village called Kirikiriroa where Hamilton now stands, but the city is a wholly European creation.

There’s a very good case for restoring Maori names to places and natural features – for example, mountains, lakes and rivers – where those names were usurped by colonists. That process is already well advanced, with public buy-in; who refers to Mt Egmont these days? But to apply Maori names to cities that were built by European colonisers is historically misleading and an ostentatious form of virtue-signalling.

Theoretically at least, there may also be a case for changing Hamilton’s name, given that it commemorates a British naval officer with no historical link to the city. But the same could be said of other cities and towns with colonial names that arguably have no modern relevance; for example Nelson, Napier, Hastings, Havelock North and even Wellington, all of which celebrate British imperial conquests in one way or another. 

Good luck with that, as they say. In any case, the bottom line is that any change must be endorsed by popular mandate, not imposed by the ruling political caste with no regard for public opinion.

And as for Kirikiriroa, so for Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland), Otautahi (Christchurch) and Otepoti (Dunedin). 

The lack of public uptake for these names by the citizens of those cities speaks volumes. Does the political class notice or care that the public don’t go along? No. They’re deaf to everything but their own moral righteousness.



ihcpcoro said...

The woke, plastic tiki brigade. A very high proportion of place names in New Zealand, are, and have always been in (some dialect of) Maori. Other cultures that have had major impact on the development of our nation, also must to be recognised in the names of places etc, not cancelled out in our woke academic/state attempt to rewrite our history. I find that the 'off' button on our TV is a very effective translation tool when bombarded by incoherent Maori language inserted into media dialogue. Eventually, media succeed or fail on ratings, and only ratings.

Russell Parkinson said...

If you are going to rename Hamilton then names like Boganville or Torana come to mind. Still if we name towns after NZ politicians rather than British ones it should be noted that the last two Labour Prime ministers (excluding the current one) were in fact born in Hamilton. So perhaps Clarksville would be more appropriate. This just raises the question would the Te Huia train service be known as the last train to Clarksville?

Have said that language is an evolving thing and its important to retain our language and culture.

So fear not, as an ex Hamilton resident now living in Auckland I and everyone I know still refers to the Why-Ta-Matter Harbour. I don't know anyone who uses the pronunciation used on radio and TV.

Eamon Sloan said...

About locations and names. Before the cyclones hit did anyone know where Tairawhiti is situated? If I am not mistaken the name first came into vogue about 30 years ago when the local hospital board was renamed. I can claim some local knowledge having completed my schooling and early working career in Gisborne. In all of my time in Gisborne, and in later times having connections with Gisborne, I cannot recall ever hearing of the name Tairawhiti. That is until the hospital board was renamed. Renamed I could suspect as the first blow struck by the local decolonisers who disposed of the names Cook Hospital and Cook Hospital Board. How can we forget Captain Cook?

Taking up Karl’s earlier posting suggestion of reading a map I took to Google Earth’s satellite map. It is possible to search any locality that comes to mind. All of the well-known towns, cities, districts, will readily appear named on Google’s map. Tairawhiti does not exist as a named locality. My basic translation of Tairawhiti (translated in much the same as a one fingered typist might operate) tells me that the word is a modern Maori language story-telling construct, referring in some way to sunlight and coastlines.

Moreover, the name does not appear on the Geographic Board’s list of names – official, unofficial, approved, validated, recorded, assigned or otherwise. Nor do Kirikiriroa or Tamaki Makaurau.

Odysseus said...

This fashion for renaming is more sinister than you allow Karl, it's actually a form of ethnic cleansing that has been practised by ethnonationalists since time immemorial. Like book burning, humans follow would next if they got the chance.

As to the origin of Hamilton, it's almost irrelevant that it was originally named after a British naval officer. The word "Hamilton" as it is now used has over the years come to denote the city which bears that name, nothing more, nothing less. The same can be said for "New Zealand".

If I were you I would give up listening to RNZ. I did so several years ago and I am a happier and better informed person for it.

Paul du Fresne said...

"This is an act of colossal arrogance and conceit by a self-ordained priesthood" Might not this describe the attitude of those who took it upon themselves, back in those heady days, to rename the area/town/city, with something more 'Suitable'?

pdm said...

Eamon Sloan - we lived in Gisborne from early November 1977 until late May 1981.

The only reference to Tairawhiti I can recall is that may have been the name of the Public Library which I think was sited in Peel Street then - on the river side of Gladstone Road.

Karl du Fresne said...

Paul du Fresne,

Measured by the prevailing values and standards of today, colonists WERE arrogant. Bestowing their own names on the places they colonised was just what they did: e.g. Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch, Dunedin, Melbourne, Sydney, New York, New Orleans, San Francisco, Rio de Janeiro, Johannesburg, Montreal, Vancouver …

The thing is, those cities bear no relationship to whatever settlements might have existed before them, and they’ve been known by those names in some cases for hundreds of years. You can’t reverse history.

Eamon Sloan said...


Thanks for nudging a few more memories of Gisborne. The new library as I would refer to it was built after I left Gisborne. It was named the H B Williams Memorial Library – name continues. The Williams family name was associated with many farming enterprises on the East Coast.

I borrowed a few books from the library on one of my visits home years ago. My dear Mum, again years ago, enjoyed a flutter on the horses. Friday was her shopping day etc. She would read her race book while sitting in the library then visit the TAB nearby. Who knows, you might have seen her there during your time in Gisborne.

mark drinkwater said...

I still call it Mt Egmont