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Skip to 0 minutes and 8 seconds The process of renaming New Zealand can actually start– for us, historically, it goes back to about the 1200s. Never too sure what happened then, but we know that our ancestors arrived in Aotearoa. That was the first time we knew the land of the long white cloud. And there was a succession of canoes that arrived from the 1200s to the 1300s. We were given this name called New Zealand– Nieuwe Zealand– by a Dutch navigator, Abel Tasman. And then, in 1769, that’s when Cook arrived. That’s when the British arrived. And the first place he landed was actually a place we know as Turanganui-a-Kiwa. He left dissatisfied with what had happened in the two-day exchange while he was there in 1769.

Skip to 0 minutes and 59 seconds He left the name Poverty Bay. We had parity. We had power. We still had control of our lands. We controlled our harbours and our waterways. By the 1870s, that had changed. It had changed because during that period between 1860, 1870, there was a thing we called the land grab, where settlers were coming in. Governments were making laws. Thereby, if you took up arms against the Crown, you automatically forfeited your right to your land. And all the tribespeople in the area, in Turanganui, were regarded as rebels. In 1870, we were given the name Gisborne. And that was after the confiscated lands were used to actually establish the city of Gisborne.

Skip to 1 minute and 43 seconds Not only that, I suppose, one of the legacies of colonialism is the process of naming spaces. And for example, Wellington, Hamilton, Auckland– these are capital cities or major cities within New Zealand. And they were all given names after prominent English people. Now, this isn’t new. This isn’t new. This is quite normal. This is the process of colonisation. We’re going through an interesting political argument, I suppose, or even a conversation, to re-establish that old name back into the present day Gisborne. Because if you’re Maori, wherever you go, if you’re from Turanganui-a-Kiwa, people know. In terms of what’s happening in New Zealand, it’s actually quite common. There’s a number of places that this is happening. Taranaki– Mount Egmont. Mount Cook– Aoraki.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds So it’s actually happening throughout the country. So it’s not new. But it is interesting. It’s an interesting stance, sociopolitical stance, that we find ourselves sitting in. Because we’re the ones that are trying to create change. It’s not even change. It’s actually a revision and reverting back to names that we know, give mana and acknowledge all the people that we’re part of and come from. Turanganui-a-Kiwa is basically the place, the standing place, of Kiwa. From the 1300s, we had the Takitimu. And that’s the waka that Kiwa was captain of. And there’s Orouta waka, which Pawa was captain of. Then there’s the Ikaroa a Rauru, another canoe that landed in our area which had Maia Purawaki as the rangatira.

Skip to 3 minutes and 15 seconds This happened in the 1300s, way before even 1642. So what we want to have happen is recognition of our history. And that’s really important for us because that gives us a sense of belonging. An irony is that a lot of our children already know these stories because they’re learning these in the Kohanga Reo, in our modern language schools. My mother, who’s 84, is a fluent speaker of Te Reo. When she was at school in 1930, she was five years old. At that time, there was a policy in New Zealand to eradicate the language and learn English. So they got strapped for speaking Te Reo at school. So they come from that period. But they’re beautiful speakers.

Skip to 3 minutes and 55 seconds And our job in recent years is to revive the language. Because it’s with the language you have the culture. And with the culture, you have all these other benefits. It’s just knowing who you are. And we’re living in a space which is really, it’s fragmented and disenfranchised at the moment because we have a whole generation of people my age who were not born with the language. But there’s a younger group of people coming through who have the language, who’ve come from these– they’re called language nests– Te Kohanga Reo and Kura Kaupapa, which are schools that focus on retaining the language.

Names on a map

In this video Steve Gibbs, artist and academic, describes how Aotearoa/New Zealand has been named and renamed over the centuries. Steve’s ancestors are the iwi (tribes) Ngati Rangiiwaho and Ngai Tamanuhiri.

He also talks about the importance of renaming places and the steps towards recovering the Māori language to reinforce culture and identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand today.

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This video is from the free online course:

Confronting Captain Cook: Memorialisation in museums and public spaces

National Maritime Museum