Restor­ing Ma¯ori place names

The Tribune (NZ) - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JA­NINE RANKIN

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Palmer­ston North’s Waitoe­toe Park will in­creas­ingly be known as Ahi­mate Park af­ter re­search into its his­tory re­vealed its cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance.

The city coun­cil is about to di­rect its staff to take the steps nec­es­sary to make the re­nam­ing for­mal.

It is part of a de­vel­op­ing trend for greater pub­lic ac­knowl­edg­ment of the cul­tural his­tory of many of its places, es­pe­cially its re­serves and ar­eas along the Manawatu¯ River.

It is a change that is par­tic­u­larly sig­nif­i­cant for Nga¯ti Hineaute Hapu Author­ity chair­man Chris Wha­iapu, whose wha¯nau have close con­nec­tions to the area.

The neigh­bour­ing Paneiri peo­ple who lived there were recog­nised with the re­nam­ing of Buick Park as Paneiri Park in the early 1990s.

Their pa¯ was Ahi­mate, on the banks of the Manawatu¯ River near the beach known re­cently as Waitoe­toe.

Wha­iapu said it was im­por­tant to en­sure those peo­ple and their vil­lage were re­mem­bered and re­spected.

He said el­e­vat­ing their story did not deny the Euro­pean his­tory of the park.

The name Waitoe­toe had lit­tle mean­ing in Ma¯ori, but was an at­tempt by a for­mer prop­erty owner to use the Ma¯ori word for wa­ter ‘‘wai’’ and a de­scrip­tion of the veg­e­ta­tion to name the land.

‘‘We ac­cept that the in­ten­tion was not to be in­sult­ing.

‘‘And it is also part of the his­tory, just as the Al­lied Con­crete works is very much still part of that area’s story that should be main­tained.’’

City coun­cil prin­ci­pal Ma¯ori ad­viser Todd Taiepa said Ahi­mate Pa¯ was a taonga or trea­sure, and it was im­por­tant to put things right with its name.

‘‘That land had an iden­tity be­fore Euro­pean set­tle­ment, and that pro­vides the foun­da­tions for its fu­ture use.’’

He said the whole his­tory of the area would be hon­oured, and sto­ries told and dis­played through the park’s de­vel­op­ment, and he cred­ited iwi with ‘‘a real gen­eros­ity of spirit’’ in wel­com­ing con­tin­ued com­mu­nity en­joy­ment of the area.

PHOTO: JA­NINE RANKIN/STUFF

A view across the Manawatu¯ River from what has lately been called Waitoe­toe Beach, site of the for­mer Ahi­mate Pa¯.

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