Written By: - Date published: 1:21 pm, March 16th, 2018 - 27 comments
Categories: Environment, Maori Issues, tourism - Tags: Andrew King, hamilton, Kirikiriroa, michael laws, race relations, whanganui
Hamilton or Kirikiriroa? I don’t even know why this is a question. Well, I do, it’s a question because white people are stupid, but I mean there’s no question in my mind which name I prefer.
Kneejerk reactions to this sort of suggested change are a bit odd when you think about it. Everything in Aotearoa that has an English name had a Maori name before it. Historically we haven’t minded change so much when we are imposing it on other cultures, but when changing it back is suggested to us it’s all too hard to cope with.
And this isn’t even a proposal that, like the H in Whanganui for example, would lead to thousands of private businesses having to change their signage. All Hamilton’s mayor Andrew King wants to do is change the name of the City Council not the city itself. Yet from some of the outcry you would think he’s suggesting banning Christmas. Overreaction much?
Trust me Hamiltonians, with this change you would still be free to name your ‘leading’ businesses after a guy who, at the battle of Gate Pa during the New Zealand Wars, famously yelled “follow me!!” seconds before getting shot in the head.
Never mind that this was a battle all about dispossessing Maori of their land and disadvantaging them economically and socially for generations to come. I can’t think why the descendants of those who got shafted by this might be quite keen on a tiny wee crumb of a baby step towards not having to think about that every time they say the name of their city…
But you know what? I think you should take the extra step anyway and rename the city itself. Seize the opportunity to get a much nicer moniker that says something beautiful about your place.
Kirikiriroa, meaning ‘long stretch of gravel’, might just distract visitors and locals alike from the water flowing past that long stretch of gravel being about 90% liquefied cow excrement. Or, even better, it might even focus your mind on cleaning it up. Or is that what some are so afraid of?
You shouldn’t pillory your mayor for having ideas. Especially ones that would improve the relationship with your local Iwi, who are a massive part of your local economy by the way, and make the place sound nicer at the same time. Win-win, surely?
Look, I’m your friend on this Hamiltonians. I grew up in your city, and I still have a lot of fondness for the place. This is not an Aucklander concern trolling you like David Farrar telling Labour how to win elections. I genuinely care.
Various people have said this conversation is a waste of time. That only needs to be true if you shut it down or conduct it Michael Lhaws style. If it instead leads to a conversation about healing the past and creating a better future then it sounds well worth talking about to me.