What’s in a name? A whole story, actually! – Māori library names

What’s in a name? A whole story, actually! Every library in the Christchurch City Libraries network is named in both English and Māori, and with two new libraries (or rather, libraries returning in sparkly new form) popping up recently, we’d like to share a bit about their Māori names.

Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre, from Nayland St
Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre, from Nayland St. Flickr Sumner-2017-08-19-community-3_6

Our libraries’ Māori names tell some great stories about their areas. For instance Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre has been given the original Ngāi Tahu name for Sumner Beach. Literally referencing the upright posture of bitterns, it also reflects the community and local iwi identity and recalls a Polynesian tradition associated with Tawhaki, who is said to have ascended to the heavens in the pursuit of knowledge – very appropriate for a library!

Ōrauwhata: Bishopdale Library and Community Centre means “the place of the multitude of eels” and recalls the area before it was planted and developed by the Bishop family in the 19th century. At this time whata (eels) swam in overflow water basins formed during flooding from the Waimairi River.

Curious about your local library’s Māori name? You can find our all about it on our Māori Library Names page (and listen to sound files of the pronunciations too). While you’re exploring, why not check out our Te Wiki o te Reo Māori page too? Or view the video below showing some Māori place names in and around Ōtautahi.

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Te Kete Wānanga o Whakaraupo — Lyttelton Library

Sleeps Standing / Moetū by Witi Ihimaera

“E hoa, ka whawhaitonu mātou, ake, ake, ake!”

“Friend, I shall fight against you for ever, for ever!”

Sleeps Standing / Moetū (Witi Ihimaera and Hēmi Kelly)

CoverKia ora readers. What a coup for Te wiki o te Reo Māori this book is.

A bilingual text in Māori and English, Sleeps Standing / Moetū is written by Witi Ihimaera (Te Whānau a Kai, Te Aitanga a Mahaki, Rongowhakaata, Tuhoe, Whakatōhea, Ngāti Porou) and translated into Te Reo Māori by Hēmi Kelly (Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tahu-Ngāti Whaoa).

Sleeps Standing / Moetū tells the story of the last battle of the Waikato Wars; the Battle of Ōrākau, 30 March to 2 April 1864. Most New Zealanders know this story as Rewi’s Last Stand, immortalised in two films in the early twentieth century, and the later novel by A.W.Reed.

At Orākau on the banks of the Pūniu River in the Waikato, 300 Māori, defended the pa – an agreed place of safety – against 1700 armed British Soldiers, commanded by Lieutenant-General Duncan Cameron.

A third of the defenders were women and children.

They came from the allied tribes of Waikato, Raukawa, Tuhoe, Taranaki, Kahungunu, and Ngati Porou to aid Ngāti Maniapoto, the Tangata Whenua (people of the land). They were led by the great nationalist leader Rewi Manga Maniapoto.

Acknowledging with respect the primary right of Maniapoto to tell this history, a fact that has often been been “trampled all over by historians” (p.87), Witi tells the tale from the point of view of an ancestor of his own Gisborne iwi of Rongowhakaata.

Descended from the great Chief Ruharuhi Rukupō, Moetū whakaaraara (the one who sleeps standing and sounds the alarm), came with other iwi to aid Ngāti Maniapoto against the British.

Many allies were prevented from gaining the pa by the British. The remaining 300 were cut off from water, food and ammunition while facing formidable odds – the British had big guns, they had peach stones and taiaha.

The philosophy of the allied Maori defenders was that if they were to die, it would be in battle. “It came as a forlorn hope with us; no one expected to escape, nor did we desire to; were we not all the children of one parent? Therefore, we all wished to die together.” Hiti Te Paerata, Ngati Te Koihera. p.12).

They lived and died by the warrior’s code; defending the land for future generations:

“Me mate te tangata, me mate mō te whenua.

The warrior’s death is to die for the land.” p.13.

Many question the presence of women and children. The character of Rua Papa explains this on p.87. Rangitira (or royal) families ‘travelled together, a sovereign with his court, wife or hoa rangatira and children. If there was a battle, the rangitira families would always be in it, leading from the front. You never saw them sitting on their horses watching from a nearby hillside.” (p.87)

Governor Grey promoted his war as ‘defensive,”  persuading Aucklanders to fear invasion and brutal murder.

The truth was the reverse. A prayer book found recently and traced back to Ruapekapeka Marae suggests that during the attack on this pa, the inhabitants had been at Sunday prayer.

As a nation, we have set a date to commemorate the New Zealand Land Wars, beginning 28 October 2017. This decision came directly from submissions to the government about the Battle of Ōrākau. This book acknowledges this decision.

A celebration of the bravery and tenacity of Maori, this wonderful book collects haka, waiata, personal accounts, photographs and maps, as well as Witi’s novella. The story is written in Te Reo Māori on the left page and English on the right, enabling the reader to choose to learn from the translated text.

Bilingual Māori language materials

30 years on, how far has the revitalisation of te Reo Māori come?

30 years ago, on the 1st August 1987, the New Zealand Government passed the Māori Language Act 1987 making Te Reo Māori an official language of New Zealand. While this should be celebrated, it is worth noting that it took 127 years for the indigenous language of this Country to be formally recognised by the Crown.

I had initially planned in this blog to recount the various ways that the speaking of te Reo Māori was suppressed over those 127 years. I was going to outline the various Crown policies and laws that were implemented to ensure that the language was suppressed and literally ‘beaten’ out of Māori. Laws such as Native Schools Act 1867 that enforced the non-speaking of te Reo Māori in public spaces, in particularly schools.

I had intended to remind people that “It takes one generation to lose a language and at least three to restore it”. Thus given my previous statement it is no wonder that te Reo Māori was in a complete state of decline by the late 20th century, beginning the proactive movement to rejuvenate and revitalise te Reo Māori within all aspects of our lives.

But that all changed on Saturday morning while watching a video post from a prominent te Reo Māori tutor.  He, along with his whānau, was abused in their local supermarket in their hometown for speaking Māori to each other. The tutor and his partner had made the decision to raise their children in te Reo Māori. Therefore, by their own choice, they speak Māori to their children and around their children wherever they are.

Imagine while talking among themselves, their shock being confronted by an irate woman telling them in a loud aggressive voice “this is New Zealand, we speak English here not that gibberish!” Aware of their children, they thanked the woman for her opinion and continued on with their shopping. A few minutes later, while the son was speaking to his mother in te Reo Māori, the woman started to mock the boy, telling him to speak English, the real language of this country. Naturally the parents interjected, politely rose above it, collected their children and shopping and left.

Naturally I was angry and sickened that someone would do this to a child.  But more importantly, I was sad and disappointed that in this day and age there are still people with these antiquated views.  We might be an educated and progressive society, but for some people it’s still 1867.

But don’t be disheartened. When we measure the tangible achievements of the last 30 years, we clearly see how far the revitalisation of te Reo Māori has come. How well this rejuvenation has worked:

  • Te Reo Māori, the indigenous language of New Zealand, is recognised as an official language of New Zealand and with this the right to speak it anywhere and at anytime;
  • Kōhanga Reo and Māori Early Childhood Centres;
  • Kura Kaupapa, Kaupapa Māori special character schools, bilingual units;
  • Iwi rejuvenation programmes such as Kotahi Mano Kaika, Hāpai i te reo;
  • Tertiary degrees in te Reo Māori, ōna tikanga me ngā ahurea Māori;
  • The ability to write your University thesis in te Reo Māori;
  • A week long total immersion wānanga known as Kura Reo;
  • Whare wānanga;
  • Incorporation of te Reo Māori in some work spaces particularly government offices;
  • Some bilingual signage and dual names;
  • two television channels – one totally in Māori;
  • 21 iwi radio stations and a further 5 kaupapa Māori focused stations with te Reo Māori segments;
  • An agency dedicated to supporting te Reo Māori aspirations known as Te Taura Whiri;
  • A National committee of te Reo Māori Champions know as Te Mātāwai, tasked with assisting with te Reo Māori aspirations;
  • Te Reo Māori books, Facebook pages, apps and electronic resources;
  • A course dedicated to the pursuit of excellence in te Reo Māori me ōna tikanga – Te Panekiretanga o te Reo Māori;
  • A week where the whole nation ‘celebrates’ the Māori language;
  • A social experiment for the month of September when those who speak Māori choose to speak only Māori throughout that month on a nominated day, week or for the entire month;
  • Presenters on ‘mainstream’ television use more te Reo Māori than ever and that’s just the Pākehā ones! More te Reo Māori is being normalised through every day use.
  • Te Ture mō te Reo Māori 2016 the first and only legislation written in te Reo Māori – not just translated.

Ah yes we have come a long way in 30 years, we do have much to celebrate.  But imagine how much more we could have achieved if we, as a nation, had embraced te Reo Māori 127 years ago. All New Zealanders would be bilingual for starters. There would be no need to repair 127 years of attempted cultural and language genocide. All New Zealanders would know the true history of their country. We would perform (properly) more than one haka for all occasions – and understand them. We would all sing both versions of the National anthem. These are just some of the things WE could have done. But we didn’t do that and now we are where we are.

Sadly haters are always going to hate.  What happened to that young Māori whānau the other Friday night vocalised thoughts born of ignorance and fear of the unknown. This an evolution people, not a revolution. Yes this might be New Zealand and we might speak English here, but the indigenous language is Māori. A language I, like that young whānau, are proud to reclaim as our birthright. Learn it, live it, love it!

So, 30 years on how far has the revitalisation of te Reo Māori come I ask? Well, a lot further than some expected, but considering that incident in a large supermarket in Hastings, perhaps not as far as most of us would have hoped.

A Good Deed: Picturing Canterbury

Photograph of a carved meeting house
A Good Deed. Kete Christchurch. A_Good_Deed_5133408218_o. Entry in the 2010 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. CC-BY-NA-SA-3.0 NZ.

My great grandfather and his wife arrived in New Zealand November 1859 on the Zealandia. Parents told me John Hepworth did a good deed for a Māori chief and was presented with a Huia feather. The feather was in the possession of my father’s older brother .. in about 1940 … [but]  the  … family can no longer find the feather. I believe but am unable to confirm that the European man with the hat on in the photo is my G[reat] Grandfather.” – John Hepworth, Christchurch, 2010.

Date unknown but probably late nineteenth century.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Do you have any further information about this photo? If so, please share it with us by leaving a comment.

Coincidental chess…

Sometimes life just throws unexpected coincidences at you.

I finally got around to watching the fabulous 2014 New Zealand film The Dark Horse (better late than never right?), featuring Cliff Curtis as Genesis Potini, former chess champion and battler with mental health issues. The film follows his attempt to coach the local kids’ chess club The Eastern Knights, and get them to the national chess championships in Auckland.

No sooner had I watched this movie, then the very next day when working at Linwood Library, a young Māori boy invited me to play a game of chess with him. Having never played, I sat down with him and got a super fast education in what can move where and which piece beats all others.

Unsurprisingly I was beaten in no time flat. Perhaps I might need to nab a one of the many chess books we have for a crash course in how to play, or better yet try learning by doing, at one of the Chess clubs in Canterbury.

However, given the length of time it took me to see a movie about chess, I’m not holding my breath about learning to play anytime soon! Have you tried playing chess?

Cover of Chess and The Art of War Ancient Wisdom to Make You A Better Player Cover of The Batford book of chess from beginner to winner Cover of The chess player's bible Cover of Test your chess

Further information

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Wheowheo ana te haere!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Wheowheo ana te haere!
They went at full speed!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Koirā!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Koirā!
Yes, that’s the one!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Mau mau ana!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Mau mau ana!
Caught! Nabbed!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Purere ana te oma!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Purere ana te oma!
Ran like a flash!

akina te reo rugby

Te Rerenga Kōrero – Kotahi atu ki te paepiro!

Kia ora. To encourage the use of Te Reo Māori Te Taura Whiri i Te Reo Māori – The Māori Language Commission publish weekly Māori phrases that can be used to support or cheer someone on.

Kotahi atu ki te paepiro!
Straight to the try line!

akina te reo rugby