An abun­dant te reo ad­di­tion

Nelson Mail - - Front Page - Han­nah Bartlett

Ma¯pua is cel­e­brat­ing its ‘‘new name’’ and mark­ing the start of of Te Wiki o Te Reo Ma¯ori.

The town­ship has joined more than 870 te reo Ma¯ori place names through­out the coun­try in hav­ing a macron added to its of­fi­cial name.

Ma¯pua School deputy prin­ci­pal Sharon Prestidge said teach­ers and pupils cel­e­brated the change with the com­mu­nity at Aranui Park on Mon­day.

‘‘For us as a school, it was im­por­tant for us to recog­nise the cor­rect spelling of our name of the place that we’re from,’’ she said. ‘‘With­out the macron, it can mean tidal in­un­da­tion or a kind of crying or sob­bing, whereas ‘Ma¯pua’ means a place of abun­dance.’’

The change would prompt a grad­ual process of up­dat­ing signs at the school, she said, but first and fore­most it was about in­creas­ing aware­ness within the school about the cor­rect spelling.

Prestidge said that as part of Mon­day’s cel­e­bra­tions, pupils planted harakeke flax as the com­mu­nity came to­gether to share cake and sing wa­iata.

The New Zealand Geo­graphic Board added the macron af­ter questions about the use of ‘‘Ma­pua’’ were raised by lo­cal resident Naomi Aporo. It changes the mean­ing and also af­fects pro­nun­ci­a­tion, putting the em­pha­sis on the first ‘‘a’’ and not the ‘‘u’’.

Nel­son’s pop­u­lar Ta¯ hu­nanui Beach is one of many places to get a small but im­por­tant cor­rec­tion from the coun­try’s pla­ce­nam­ing author­ity, the New Zealand Geo­graphic Board: a macron, or small line above a sin­gle vowel, to in­di­cate that it should be em­pha­sised.

It also gives the beau­ti­ful beach’s name its true mean­ing. With the macron, Ta¯ hu­nanui means ‘‘big sandy beach’’; but with­out a macron, it meant noth­ing in Ma¯ ori. ‘‘Ta¯ hu­nanui’’ is now join­ing a list of more than 870 place names through­out the coun­try that cor­rectly have a macron to en­sure that they are ‘‘tika’’ (cor­rect) in te reo Ma¯ ori.

The sym­bol, agreed on by mis­sion­ar­ies and govern­ment of­fi­cials in about 1840, was in­tro­duced af­ter Ma¯ ori com­plained that the stan­dard English al­pha­bet was lim­it­ing and badly dis­torted their oral lan­guage.

It seems right that Nel­son’s beau­ti­ful beach should have a cor­rect Ma¯ ori name, partly be­cause this was an area set­tled very early by ta¯ ngata whenua. Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal finds near the in­ter­sec­tion of what is now Bis­ley Ave and Rocks Rd in­di­cate a sig­nif­i­cant and long-stand­ing set­tle­ment dat­ing back to the 14th cen­tury.

In colo­nial times, what is now Ta¯ hu­nanui served as a har­bour for the early New Zealand Com­pany set­tle­ment. Its tem­pes­tu­ous di­rec­tor, Arthur Wake­field, wanted his ‘‘Nel­son’’ set­tle­ment lo­cated there, and had a big house built near to what is now Rocks Rd.

How­ever, a ma­jor change in the land­scape oc­curred in 1870, when the south­ern chan­nel of the Waimea River silted up and the main chan­nel went north to reach the sea at what is now Ma¯ pua but was orig­i­nally called sim­ply ‘‘Western En­trance’’.

A grow­ing sand­bar across the for­mer east­ern chan­nel of the Waimea River shut down the early port, with the sand form­ing the ex­ten­sive beach we know to­day.

For a long pe­riod, the beach was called ‘‘The Sands’’. In the early 1900s, it was given three dif­fer­ent Ma¯ ori names as Nel­son de­bated its new as­set. First, it was ‘‘Tahuna’’, fol­lowed by ‘‘Tatahi’’, and fi­nally, in 1911, the name which has en­dured, ‘‘Ta¯ hu­nanui’’.

Ma¯ pua, lo­cated on the north­ern chan­nel from the

Waimea River, is another Nel­son sea­side lo­cal­ity that re­cently had its name cor­rected by the geo­graphic board.

The name (with­out a macron) was orig­i­nally cho­sen in 1910 by a pi­o­neer set­tler, F I Ledger, who was keen to sub­di­vide his coastal land hold­ing and to take ad­van­tage of grow­ing buyer in­ter­est in land for ap­ple or­chards. He se­lected the name from a Ma¯ ori dic­tionary, and it has been used with­out a macron by al­most ev­ery­one since then.

How­ever, in mid-2018 Ma¯ pua dis­trict resident Naomi Aporo started a com­mu­nity dis­cus­sion when she ex­plained at a pub­lic meet­ing that ‘‘Ma¯ pua’’ with a macron had the mean­ing of ‘‘abun­dance’’ and also de­scribed the colour­ful fruit of the kahikatea trees that once grew there. With­out the macron, it meant noth­ing.

Af­ter more than a cen­tury’s use with­out a macron, ‘‘Ma¯ pua’’ in late 2018 be­came one of a list of 176 South Is­land place names ap­proved by the geo­graphic board for cor­rec­tion. The de­ci­sion was pub­lished in the New Zealand Gazette on No­vem­ber 5, 2018 – and in ar­eas like Ma¯ pua, the changes have been warmly wel­comed.

Among other Nel­son city or Tas­man dis­trict names ap­proved by the board as of­fi­cial with the ad­di­tion of a macron were Ma¯ riri, Ma¯ ra­hau and Ma¯ ra­hau River, Tu¯ ı¯ Glen in Atawhai, Umukurı¯, and Pan­gato¯ tara.

Amended Golden Bay names in­cluded Man­gara¯ kau, Pa¯ kawau and Pa¯ kawau In­let, Po¯ hara and Po¯hara Beach, Taupo¯ Point and Taupo¯ Hill, To¯ taranui, To¯ taranui Beach and To¯ taranui Stream.

In­ter­est in cor­rect­ing Ma¯ ori place names that lacked a macron seems to have started in 2010, when Lake Hawea in Cen­tral Otago was re­named Ha¯ wea, af­ter a re­spected an­ces­tor and ran­gatira, Ha¯ wea-i-ter­aki. The geo­graphic board ac­cepted his de­scen­dants’ evidence and ap­proved the change.

Also in 2010, Nga¯i Tahu, the South Is­land’s big­gest iwi, launched a mas­sive cul­tural study of tra­di­tional Ma¯ori-oc­cu­pied ar­eas in the South Is­land. It in­volved the cre­ation of maps and mas­sive data­bases to lo­cate about 3000 his­toric places known to Nga¯ i Tahu ances­tors.

The board last year de­clined to ap­prove all the names rec­om­mended by Nga¯i Tahu, and sought more in­for­ma­tion about many of them. How­ever, it did ac­cept as of­fi­cial any ex­ist­ing names that re­quired only a macron for cor­rec­tion.

This week, which is also Ma¯ ori Lan­guage Week, Naomi Aporo and other res­i­dents joined 200-plus pupils of Ma¯ pua School and sup­port­ers of the move to cor­rect Ma¯ pua’s name by plant­ing a small chil­dren’s harakeke gar­den for weav­ing in Aranui Park, and shar­ing a large celebrator­y cake.

It seems right that Nel­son’s beau­ti­ful beach should have a cor­rect Ma¯ ori name... In ar­eas like

Ma¯ pua, the changes have been warmly wel­comed.


The New Zealand Geo­graphic Board’s de­ci­sion to cor­rect the names of Ma¯pua and Ta¯hu­nanui to in­clude macrons gives th­e­ses place names their true mean­ing.

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