An abundant te reo addition
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.