Mispronunciation of foreign names and basic te reo Ma¯ ori at a Napier citizenship ceremony reflects poorly on New Zealand as a country, an attendee says.
Jenny Tutu, from Napier, attended the Napier City Councilrun ceremony last week in support of her son-in-law Faitala Sesega.
But what was supposed to be a day of celebration became one of ‘‘embarrassment’’ when his Samoan name was mispronounced, along with others, as well as basic te reo.
Tutu apologised to her son-inlaw after the ceremony was complete and ‘‘felt sorry’’ for him, as he had family from Auckland and overseas travel to attend.
‘‘You’re ashamed to be living in Napier and being a New Zealand citizen,’’ she said. ‘‘Put yourself in a situation where you were in a country where the language they spoke was not your native language, and you were ... becoming a citizen of that country, how would you feel? A ceremony and they can’t even say your name.’’
In a response to Tutu’s complaint seen by Stuff, council governance leader Deborah Smith said she raised valid points.
‘‘As a council, we are very aware of New Zealand’s unique cultural identity. Our council kauma¯ tua Piri Prentice delivers a karakia [prayer] at the beginning of every ceremony.’’
Her comments have been raised with the mayor and would be discussed with councillors.