His­toric day for our maunga

Taranaki Daily News - - Front Page - Deena Coster [email protected]

Af­ter more than 30 years with two names, Taranaki’s most prom­i­nent land­mark is about to have only one.

Con­sid­ered an ances­tor by iwi, from next year the moun­tain will be known only as Taranaki Maunga.

Fol­low­ing an agree­ment be­tween Nga¯ Iwi o Taranaki and the Crown as a re­sult of Treaty of Wai­tangi ne­go­ti­a­tions re­lated to the moun­tain, the names Mt Eg­mont and Eg­mont Na­tional Park will be con­signed to the scrap heap.

The na­tional park will in­stead be known as Te Pa­pakura o Taranaki.

The name changes were first mooted last year by Nga¯ Iwi o Taranaki lead ne­go­tia­tor Jamie Tu­uta when he pro­vided an up­date on the ne­go­ti­a­tions, which be­gan in March 2017.

Now Tu­uta has con­firmed that all the names associated with Taranaki Maunga will be Ma¯ ori un­der the new leg­is­la­tion, which is ex­pected to be come into ef­fect next year, Te Ao Ma¯ ori News re­ported.

In 1770, Bri­tish ex­plorer James Cook named the moun­tain af­ter the Earl of Eg­mont, a man who never set foot in the re­gion.

In 1986, the New Zealand Geo­graphic Board of­fi­cially listed the dual names of Mt Eg­mont and Mt Taranaki as in­ter­change­able ways to re­fer to the moun­tain.

There are more than 100 sites of cul­tural sig­nif­i­cance to Ma¯ ori within the na­tional park and the maunga is an im­por­tant fea­ture in the his­tory and whaka­papa of Taranaki’s eight iwi group­ings.

As part of the set­tle­ment, an apol­ogy and cul­tural re­dress have formed part of the ne­go­ti­a­tions; how­ever, the deal will not in­clude any fi­nan­cial or com­mer­cial rec­om­pense.

Taranaki Maunga will also be be­stowed with pro­tected le­gal rights and the Mount Eg­mont Vest­ing Act 1978 will be re­pealed. Un­der that piece of leg­is­la­tion, the moun­tain was re­turned to the re­gion by vest­ing it in the Taranaki Ma¯ ori Trust Board, af­ter which it was im­me­di­ately given back to the Gov­ern­ment by the board as a ‘‘gift to the nation’’.

How­ever, the Wai­tangi Tri­bunal, in its wa­ter­shed 1996 report on Taranaki, said there was lit­tle ev­i­dence to show there had been agree­ment from Taranaki hapu¯ to do this.

Hemi Sund­gren, of Te Ko­tahi­tanga o Te A¯ tiawa Trust, the en­tity set up to man­age its treaty set­tle­ment re­sources, said the change was about ac­knowl­edg­ing their ances­tor.

‘‘This has long since been the wishes of our old peo­ple since the 1970s. Our elders have wanted to re­store our ances­tor’s name and re­move Eg­mont, re­turn his true iden­tity in his own right.’’

On so­cial me­dia, re­ac­tion to the news of the pend­ing name change was mixed.

Sev­eral com­menters on Face­book said they would con­tinue to re­fer to the moun­tain as Mt Eg­mont, as that is how it was re­ferred to when they grew up.

How­ever, oth­ers ap­plauded the move, with one post­ing the com­ment ‘‘about time’’.

An­other queried why it was so dif­fi­cult for peo­ple to use the name Taranaki.

‘‘Things change with greater un­der­stand­ing, have you all lost the abil­ity to adapt and learn?’’ she asked.

Some­times mak­ing the most of the fu­ture re­quires mend­ing the past. In scrap­ping the dual name of Mt Taranaki/Eg­mont next year to re­turn to Taranaki Maunga, a his­tor­i­cal con­ceit that has long bur­dened this prov­ince has been lifted.

For the first time since 1770 the moun­tain is to be of­fi­cially recog­nised the way those who first named it in­tended.

As Hemi Sund­gren of Te Ko­tahi­tanga o Te

A¯ tiawa Trust said, it re­turns to the moun­tain his true iden­tity.

From there it only makes sense for Te Pa­pakura o Taranaki to be the new name of Eg­mont Na­tional Park.

Even though there are only a few who still re­fer to the moun­tain as Mt Eg­mont, the le­gal recog­ni­tion that the name will soon no longer ap­ply is im­por­tant.

The dual­ity of his name was con­de­scend­ing. It gave sta­tus to a name that had none. At the same time, in mak­ing Taranaki op­tional it re­duced the mana that name held.

Recog­nis­ing this does not dis­re­spect or dis­avow the name Cap­tain Cook gave the moun­tain. In nam­ing it af­ter John Perce­val, 2nd Earl of Eg­mont – a man who would never even see the land­mark that bore his name – Cook was fol­low­ing the con­ven­tion of the time.

But we must also recog­nise that con­ven­tion was al­ways achingly racist. Dis­re­gard­ing ex­ist­ing names helped spir­i­tu­ally, cul­tur­ally and eco­nom­i­cally dis­pos­sess the tan­gata whenua and set them on a path from which they are yet to re­cover.

It en­abled set­tlers to act as if the land on which they built new lives had not be­longed to any­one be­fore and so they were morally free to name it and use it as they wished.

Mt Taranaki has been the of­fi­cial name of choice in this pub­li­ca­tion since 2004. That de­ci­sion was made by then-ed­i­tor Lance Girling-Butcher.

Ear­lier this year he re­called it was not a de­ci­sion he made without anx­i­ety. There were fears sub­scribers would fol­low through on their threats to can­cel the pa­per and ad­ver­tis­ers would fol­low.

It pays to re­mem­ber those fears be­cause it was just 15 years ago – a time we like to imag­ine as free of such con­cerns.

There will be those who still use Eg­mont. That must be ac­cepted. It has been at­tached to the moun­tain for hun­dreds of years and is an un­de­ni­able part of its his­tory.

But it should be hoped the use of the name is re­duced to the his­tor­i­cal foot­note that it is. When talk­ing of the moun­tain we all look to each day (even when it can’t be seen) there should be only one name that springs to mind.

It is Taranaki Maunga, as it al­ways has been. Com­mu­ni­ties never stay still. They surge for­ward and back and side­ways and in that tur­moil great things are achieved at the same time as a great many things are bro­ken.

A mea­sure of the health and vi­tal­ity of a com­mu­nity can be taken from how much en­ergy it puts into mend­ing that which is bro­ken.

Recog­nis­ing the tra­di­tional tikanga Ma¯ ori re­la­tion­ship be­tween Taranaki iwi and their maunga is part of that mend­ing.

Long may it con­tinue. There is still much we can fix.

The dual­ity of his name was con­de­scend­ing. It gave sta­tus to a name that had none. At the same time, in mak­ing Taranaki op­tional, it re­duced the mana that name held.


A view of Mt Taranaki from Lower Nor­manby Rd in Manaia, south Taranaki.

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