Historic day for our maunga
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Taranaki Maunga will also be bestowed with protected legal rights and the Mount Egmont Vesting Act 1978 will be repealed.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.