Calling it out as cultural thievery

LETTER

I am guessing that the Poverty Bay renaming brouhaha will have a lot to do with preparations for the 250th anniversary of Cook’s Landing — now there’s a good name for the beach and bay area. It does not require much imagination to foresee that in early October 2019, the local grandees and other panjandrums will gather to minimise and despoil Cook’s legacies by announcing the name change. Call it out as cultural thievery. Think, Government Ministers, Mayor, councillors, long-winded speeches and haka groups.

The Geographic Board by then will have rubber-stamped a name change. Which is the only reason for its existence. It has considerable form and a single-minded determination when it comes to political correctness.

In my own part of the country — Wellington — a new motorway extension recently replaced part of the main highway which is to be reclassified as a local road. As a first action Kapiti District Council mapped out seven sections of roadway to be named. It then immediately endorsed three local iwi’s set of seven historical and near unpronounceable Maori names. Iwi involvement was by separate invitation prior to general public submissions. The council will make its decision soon based on a “short list” of names. The length of the list has not been disclosed.

I see the promotion of Maori place names as part of an exercise in localised “soft power”. Sorry about the buzzword which is gaining currency in references to China applying its influence worldwide. By “soft power” in the New Zealand context, I am referring to continuing efforts to establish the Maori language in some form of ascendancy. There is ongoing push-back against those efforts mainly because the language is viewed by most as a “dead” language and one which fails on many literary and creative standards.

NB: I completed my schooling in Gisborne and started work there. The first of the extended family on my mother’s side arrived in Gisborne in the early 1920s. Connections continue there to this day.

Eamon Sloan, Wellington

I am guessing that the Poverty Bay renaming brouhaha will have a lot to do with preparations for the 250th anniversary of Cook’s Landing — now there’s a good name for the beach and bay area. It does not require much imagination to foresee that in early October 2019, the local grandees and other panjandrums will gather to minimise and despoil Cook’s legacies by announcing the name change. Call it out as cultural thievery. Think, Government Ministers, Mayor, councillors, long-winded speeches and haka groups.

The Geographic Board by then will have rubber-stamped a name change. Which is the only reason for its existence. It has considerable form and a single-minded determination when it comes to political correctness.

In my own part of the country — Wellington — a new motorway extension recently replaced part of the main highway which is to be reclassified as a local road. As a first action Kapiti District Council mapped out seven sections of roadway to be named. It then immediately endorsed three local iwi’s set of seven historical and near unpronounceable Maori names. Iwi involvement was by separate invitation prior to general public submissions. The council will make its decision soon based on a “short list” of names. The length of the list has not been disclosed.

I see the promotion of Maori place names as part of an exercise in localised “soft power”. Sorry about the buzzword which is gaining currency in references to China applying its influence worldwide. By “soft power” in the New Zealand context, I am referring to continuing efforts to establish the Maori language in some form of ascendancy. There is ongoing push-back against those efforts mainly because the language is viewed by most as a “dead” language and one which fails on many literary and creative standards.

NB: I completed my schooling in Gisborne and started work there. The first of the extended family on my mother’s side arrived in Gisborne in the early 1920s. Connections continue there to this day.

Eamon Sloan, Wellington

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Tim Marshall - 1 month ago
Kia ora, what an ironic title to this letter which claims "cultural thievery" about moves to redress exactly that activity through the process of colonisation, dispossession and abuse of power that has been directed at tangata whenua over much of the last 150 years. I am saddened to read another example of historic amnesia and/or ignorance and disappointed that it is provided space in our local newspaper.

Showdown needed . . . - 1 month ago
At the upcoming celebrations, hopefully there will be musket live firing in an accurate re-enactment!

Nicky Solomon - 1 month ago
Kia ora Tim and absolutely agree - the irony in the debate around the naming of our bay is bordering on insanity. Those who write against the dual-name application seem to be blind to the irony inherent in supporting a name change that occurred 250 years ago as a consequence of a fleeting visit from a foreigner who certainly engaged in no consultation with the local constituency, while vehemently opposing the current proposal for actually - hang-on - no name change at all but simply a sharing of a name, a step towards acknowledgement of our region's history, which began long before the Poverty Bay label was adopted.

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