I do actually kind of love these kinds of stories. See, despite white people settling themselves down in Aotearoa/NZ all those years ago and naming stuff after each other, it seems that the incredibly-creative “North Island” and “South Island” were never officially named as such.
So now the NZ Geographic Board, who have great form for innocently following procedure and stirring up white people’s privilege defence mechanisms, have suggested we official-ise the names – and maybe use Te Ika-a-Māui and Te Waipounamu instead, or in conjunction.
Cue the fucking whinging, and the incredibly bad reportage in the media. 3News hasn’t deigned to put the two-sentence blurb read out on last night’s broadcast onto their website, but their text article makes for some great close analysis:
The New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) has announced it will publicly consult on proposals to adopt new names for New Zealand’s two main islands.
Proposals to adopt new names. Because the names which the indigenous people of the country called something long before Whitey A said to Whitey B, “This one’s more north than the other one! And that one’s more south! Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” are obviously new scary terrifying changey things!!! which will destroy our society and confuse our children.
(And because of course it’s far too inconvenient to note that Whitey A forgot to follow proper process while re-naming the land he was appropriating.)
I’m with marty mars on this one. Use the names with provenance. Use the names which mean something. Use names which are undeniably New Zealand names.
And although the change is frightening, here’s a reassuring tale: a few generations back, one of my relatives was given the middle name Egmont. And today I explain to people, “well the name Egmont came from the fact they were living near Taranaki.” And if those people are under about 25? I have to explain why that makes sense.