Opportunity lost to mark milestone

The fact local iwi could not agree on where to hold a ministerial announcement of the long-awaited official recognition of Turanganui-a-Kiwa, planned for Saturday morning, rather took the shine off what is a meaningful development in the history of this heritage-laden place.

Granted the dual name Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay only applies to the bay and not the settlement that has been called Gisborne since about 1870, after the powers that be decided Turanga (shortened from Turanganui-a-Kiwa) was too similar to Tauranga.

This was always a compromise solution to officially reinstate the original name for our place and to recognise the mana of the ancestor Kiwa, priest on the Horouta canoe, who according to custom was the first ashore — at what is now the Gisborne harbour area — and claimed the land, naming it Turanganui-a-Kiwa or “The great standing place of Kiwa”.

Having Turanganui-a-Kiwa precede Gisborne would have been opposed in very strong terms by many in the community, to the extent that it is unlikely the council would or could have proposed it to the New Zealand Geographic Board.

Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage was well aware of the sensitivities, and misconceptions in the community that the “name change” went much further than it actually does. Her media statement immediately stressed the defined nature of the dual name.

It seems her ministry was not sufficiently aware of inter-iwi sensitivities, though, over competing mana whenua claims.

Waikanae Beach was mooted first for the announcement, to be up close with the history of both Maori and European landings at the Turanganui river mouth, and the bay receiving a dual name.

Then it was to be atop Titirangi, for its expansive view of the bay where first waka ventured about 700 years ago, and then 249 years ago a converted coal carrier called the Endeavour, sailed into view.

The dual name non-launch does not necessarily augur anything, it just exemplifies the fact there are deep sensitivities involved and that public events of this nature should begin with consultation and agreement, and be developed from there rather than on the fly.

The fact local iwi could not agree on where to hold a ministerial announcement of the long-awaited official recognition of Turanganui-a-Kiwa, planned for Saturday morning, rather took the shine off what is a meaningful development in the history of this heritage-laden place.

Granted the dual name Turanganui-a-Kiwa/Poverty Bay only applies to the bay and not the settlement that has been called Gisborne since about 1870, after the powers that be decided Turanga (shortened from Turanganui-a-Kiwa) was too similar to Tauranga.

This was always a compromise solution to officially reinstate the original name for our place and to recognise the mana of the ancestor Kiwa, priest on the Horouta canoe, who according to custom was the first ashore — at what is now the Gisborne harbour area — and claimed the land, naming it Turanganui-a-Kiwa or “The great standing place of Kiwa”.

Having Turanganui-a-Kiwa precede Gisborne would have been opposed in very strong terms by many in the community, to the extent that it is unlikely the council would or could have proposed it to the New Zealand Geographic Board.

Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage was well aware of the sensitivities, and misconceptions in the community that the “name change” went much further than it actually does. Her media statement immediately stressed the defined nature of the dual name.

It seems her ministry was not sufficiently aware of inter-iwi sensitivities, though, over competing mana whenua claims.

Waikanae Beach was mooted first for the announcement, to be up close with the history of both Maori and European landings at the Turanganui river mouth, and the bay receiving a dual name.

Then it was to be atop Titirangi, for its expansive view of the bay where first waka ventured about 700 years ago, and then 249 years ago a converted coal carrier called the Endeavour, sailed into view.

The dual name non-launch does not necessarily augur anything, it just exemplifies the fact there are deep sensitivities involved and that public events of this nature should begin with consultation and agreement, and be developed from there rather than on the fly.

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