Sunday, April 3, 2022

Roger Childs: An appropriate name for the Transmission Gully Motorway?

The obsession with giving government departments, new buildings and now highways te reo names continues.

The latest to have a name “gifted” to it, is the long awaited but recently opened Transmission Gully motorway linking the Kapiti Coast with the Tawa Valley. But is anyone actually going to call it by the new Maori name?

Which way are you driving to Wellington?

I’ll save time if I go via Te Ara Nui o Te Rangihaeata.

What’s that?

Ngati Toa move to safety in Kapiti

Te Rangihaeata, who later became a Ngati Toa chief, was probably born in the Kawhia area in the 1780s. He was often in the shadow of his more famous uncle Te Rauparaha who was a great leader of his people, but also a ruthless and brutal warrior. However the nephew became one of Te Rauparaha’s greatest generals.

In 1819 — 1820 both men were involved in a taua (war party) down the west coast of the North Island to Wellington and fought many battles along the way. The Te Ara website says of Te Rangihaeata that he was involved in killing or capturing many people on the Kapiti coast, at Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington Harbour) and in Southern Wairarapa.

Also in the taua was the legendary Ngapuhi chief Tamati Waka Nene who suggested to Te Rauparaha that the Kapiti-Wellington area would be a safer place to live than Kawhia where Ngati Toa was constantly menaced by the powerful Waikato tribes.

The tribe duly moved south in the 1820s.

Te Rangihaeata – Brave warrior chief or brutal thug?

His courage and skill in battle was never in question however the ruthless side of his character was often to the fore. Although he signed the Te Tiriti o Waitangi in June 1840, he was loathe to accept the increasing European settlement in the southern North Island and northern South Island.

In 1843 the two Ngati Toa chiefs opposed the illegal New Zealand Company surveying of land in the Wairau Valley in Marlborough and burnt down a surveyor’s hut. A fight broke out when a party set out to arrest them. A number were killed including Te Rangihaeata’s wife. The chief demanded utu and himself clubbed to death 9 prisoners despite his uncle’s protestations. There were demands from settlers that the two Ngati Toa chiefs should be arrested for what became known as The Wairau Massacre (later softened to “Wairau Affray”) but Governor Fitzroy didn’t agree.

Te Rangihaeata lived for at a time on Kapiti Island and later Mana Island. He also built a fortified pa at Pauatahanui and from this base frequently menaced farms and settlements. In March 1846 he led his warriors on attack on a stockade at Boulcott Farm in the Hutt Valley and six British soldiers and a civilian were killed.

Then in August 1846, at what became known as Battle Hill, colonial forces and some Ngati Toa and Ngatiawa allies, drove Te Rangihaeata and his supporters out of the wider Pauatahanui region and thus ended the Maori threat to settlement in this area and the Hutt Valley.

The warrior chief in his old age did support peace between settlers and Maori, and became a church goer before his death in 1855.

Worthy of having his name on the motorway?

Is the name Te Ara Nui o Te Rangihaeata warranted for what everyone knows as Transmission Gully?

Certainly the Ngati Toa chief was militarily active in the area; had a base in Pauatahanui; lived for many years on the Kapiti Coast; fought at Battle Hill, and often passed through the valleys which make up the route of the 27 km motorway.

You be the judge.

Roger Childs is a writer and freelance journalist. He is a former history and geography teacher, who wrote or co-authored 10 school textbooks. This article was first published HERE.


Vic Alborn said...

Call it whatever. It will be known as Transmission Gulley.

Doug Longmire said...

Totally inappropriate.
Naming the highway after a brutal, savage murderer.
Using names that 90% of New Zealanders cannot pronounce, let alone understand.

DeeM said...

Of course nobody will use it. Well, only the media, politicians and woke academics who proposed it in the first place. Even most Maori won't use it.
It means nothing to most people, it's just a mouthful of words that is difficult to say and remember.

Just like all the ridiculous names for government departments.
OK - a couple have partly taken hold - e.g Oranga Tamariki. But I suggest these are very much the exception. Particularly when the translation is ridiculous. Waka Kotahi for the NZ Transport Agency - utter nonsense. I know that our woke elites would love to have just "one waka" on our roads to save the planet but since a waka requires no fuel and can't be driven it is a ridiculous notion, but fits perfectly with this government's abilities.

Terry Morrissey said...

State Highway One works for me.

Vic said...

Absolutely agree with Vic Alborn. Everyone answering the question "what route did to take to get to (or from) Wellington?" will say Transmission Gully, at least until it gets a State Highway number. A bit like the settlements in early 1800's; they were given European names, grew into villages, then towns, then cities. So why now are they given Maori names in the media, that would more accurately reflect the historical Maori DISTRICT of economic interest?
It is disrespectful of the European heritage that has enabled so many Maori to succeed.

GREGD said...

Blind Freddy can see our immigrant, Asian,Indian,Pakistan,Arab,Russian,and all other European [New] New Zealanders, are only interested in learning a 2nd language which is English, spoken by 99% of the Nz population.My local service station with pakistani staff do not understand Bro ,kai-ora or any other te-reo wording.And living in Howick i can assure the asians will not be interested in te-reo either,Only Cris Luxon whose office is around the corner, is going to learn te-reo ,to use on camera or airwave but a complete waste of time with the locals in his electorate office.

Anonymous said...

renaming of places like roads is the ultimate test of the battle between true democracy and democratic representatives. we all know who wins in the end :)

on a related note, i recall multiple roads in india (mainly bombay & calcutta) with colonial sounding names being renamed to local variants. only tourists would suffer the utter confusion - as the taxi drivers and locals would carry on using the original names. even letters sent using govt post used to get lost as postal workers couldn't figure out the new street names :(

RRB said...

Roger, you've held back on the background to Te Rangiheata, he was the cause of Battle Hill. When the government arrived at Pauatahanui Pa and requested that he give up 3 who were accused of murders and intimidation of the settlers and soldiers in the Hutt Valley he refused, which then led to a larger force including other local Maori forcing them out, ultimately to a showdown at Battle Hill. (see; ENZB. Lt. McKillop. R.N.Fac.ed. Capper 1973. Chapter V. pages 236-275.)
For some obscure reason the Porirua Museum (Pataka) project him as a local hero, in reality he was the opposite.

Don said...

Surely we should be used to this by now. Te Rauparaha was a mass murderer of the worst pychopathic type who even ate his victims but he seems to have been sanctified. There seems to be a custom of memorialising monsters,

Denden said...

Are we all afraid to call Te Raparaha and his nephew what they were? They were killers and Cannibals.

Auntie Podes said...

Betcha life that the precious common tatoes on the box will use any thing Maori. Their grossly inflated salaries depend on them so doing. They are the woke of the woke!

Geoffrey said...

Te Reo = the language. Does that mean “THE language? To my knowledge, every other language is attached to an ethnicity. So why the language of the Maori be any different? May I suggest that this is a trick of using habit to establish a new truth.