Sunday, November 26, 2023

Roger Childs: Tereofication

Chris Luxon goes to a science exhibition and is shown a time machine which can see 100 years into the future.  The man in charge invites him to ask any question he likes.

Chris asks, "What will Australia be like in 100 years’ time .... ?"

The machine whirs and beeps and goes into action and gives a printout, which the man reads, "The country is in good hands under the new Prime Minister, crime is non-existent, there is no conflict, the economy is healthy.  There are no worries."

He has another go, "What will China be like in 100 years’ time ..... ?"

Another print out, "The country will be the world's leading economy and everyone there will enjoy the highest standard of living in the world."

Chris Luxon then asks, "What will New Zealand be like in 100 years’ time .... ?"

The machine whirs and beeps and goes into action.  The man gets a printout, but he's just stares at it.

"Come on .... !" says Chris,  "What does it say ..... ?"

The man replies, "I don't know ......... !

''It's all in bloody Maori .... !"

An invented language

The native people of New Zealand had no written language before the settlers began arriving in the late 18th and early 19th century. It was missionaries who put together the early Maori dictionaries. The first was devised by Anglican cleric William Williams. Today the Maori Language Commission is constantly making up new Te Reo words and The Post has a new one each day at the bottom of page one. An offering from last week: Mauiui means sick

One of the most ridiculous new words the Commission made up was moemoea for Surrealism. It featured at the Te Papa exhibition a few years ago and, as expected, the Te Reo descriptions of the exhibits came first.

There are no New Zealanders with more that 50% Maori blood and those who call themselves Maori make up about 17% of the population. The number of people who actually regularly communicate in Te Reo is probably under 5% of the total population.

 Nevertheless in 1987 Te Reo was made one of our three official languages along with English and sign language. Today all government entities have Maori names, and any new organisation, building, road or facility around the towns and cities of New Zealand gets a Te Reo name. Why can’t we have English names used -  a ferry called the MV Anderton, the MJ Savage Library, the Jon Trimmer Memorial Theatre?

 “Manglish” and other absurdities

Some journalists drop Te Reo words into their English articleswords like mahi, mauri, wahine, tikanga, ao, kaupapa, mana whenua - presumably with a view to educating non-Maori speakers and getting them to use the words.  There have been inconsistencies - the Black Ferns have been referred to as wahine toa, but tane toa has not been applied to the All Blacks.

The resulting Manglish is a reminder of the emergence of Franglais many decades ago. It was a mix of French and English designed to help tourists from the United Kingdom communicate with locals across the Channel.

All government departments have Te Reo names and sometimes the Maori version comes first as with Oranga Tamariki - Ministry for Children. But not the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment - Hikina Whakatutuki. When the government is mentioned, the Te Reo name comes first – Te Kawanatanga o Aotearoa - New Zealand Government.


Presumably Aotearoa is the Maori name for the country, even though it has no provenance and as Michael King pointed out “ ... in the pre-European era, Maori had no name for the country as a whole.” They were never a united people and had no concept of a nation. Tribes and sub-tribes were where their loyalties lay.


Many people have remarked that the last Labour government was trying to change the name of the country by stealth. However if Aotearoa had been the accepted name for the natives in the first half of the nineteenth century and earlier, it would have featured in the 1935 Declaration of Independence and the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi. It didn’t, the name Nu Tirani was used.


The 2023 History Curriculum is chock full of Te Reo words and many are not translated. As regards lack of translation, I once attended a ceremony at the Marines Memorial in Queen Elizabeth Park near Paekakariki, when a Native American Marine who was over here in 1943, was present. Local iwi leaders spoke in Maori for at least 15 minutes while Saginaw stood leaning on his stick. There was no translation for the visitor who had travelled from the other side of the world.


Twisting our history and changing/adding names

It has been common in recent years for place names to be changed to a Te Reo version. We recently passed through Bennydale and it has a new Te reo name Maniaiti. The signs of course put Maniaiti first. The small settlement of Maxwell west of Whanganui used to be a milestone coming back from Taranaki, but it’s now Paharaka because local iwi said George Maxwell was a murderer. As Bruce Moon has pointed out, they have got it wrong.

The famous Ngato Toa chief Te Rauparaha killed prisoners sometimes after torturing them, ate human flesh and collected slaves, but there is no move to change the name of Rauparaha St in Waikanae Beach or the Rauparaha arena in Porirua.

Te Reo greetings on radio and television

Radio New Zealand - the New Zealand equivalent of the BBC - is supposed to be free of political meddling. Yet now it has been hijacked, and its hapless staff obliged to dispense their daily dose of te reo. There were just a few words to begin with. Then longer sentences which have kept on growing until the keener young grovellers now begin and end their spiels with expansive swatches of a lingo understood by only a minuscule proportion of their audience. Dave Witherow, Otago Daily Times, 3 December 2017

Don Brash has also been concerned, and agreed to be interviewed by Kim Hill on her Saturday programme a few years ago.

Brash referred to listening to the RNZ News at 6.00am in the morning and hearing Guyon Espinar giving a few sentences in Te Reo without any translation. Brash made the point that close on 100% of those listening wouldn’t have a clue what the announcer was saying.

Hill had clearly decided in advance that this interview would be about batting for her colleague and discrediting her guest. Her position seemed to be I’m right, he’s wrong and I’m going to prove it.

She was thoroughly rude and broke every rule in the RNZ Lexicon for objective interviewing.

As readers know, the Te Reo introductions and farewells on the media continue to this day.

Te Reo in its place

New Zealanders accept that some words of Maori origin such as whanau and mana are now part of Kiwi English.

There is no problem if part-Maori and others wish to speak in Te Reo on marae and at other gatherings, but the invented language should not be imposed on the general public in official names, in the introductions on radio and television, and casually dropped into newspaper and magazine articles.

Hopefully the incoming government will end the Te Reo obsession as part of their programme to get New Zealand back on track.

Roger Childs is a retired teacher who taught History, Social Studies and Geography for 40 years.


Anonymous said...

Luxon started his speech on the coalition signing with a Maori lingo salutation.

And yet one of the coalition agreements is ~ ALL PUBLIC SERVICES will be required to PRIMARILY communicate in English – unless it’s specifically related to Māori….

I would consider ‘Government’ to be a ‘Public Service’?

Luxon is as ‘woke’ as they come ~ thank God for David Seymour and Winston Peters

Anonymous said...

New Zealand's TRUE Founding Document and First Constitution which made New Zealand an independent British Colony on the 3rd May 1841, with it's own Governor and Government under one flag and one law for ALL the people of New Zealand, was Queen Victoria's Royal Charter/Letters Patent dated 16th November 1840.

This Royal Charter was written in ENGLISH, the English language, therefore, became the 'OFFICIAL' language of New Zealand.

Politicians, 'guardians of our democracy' would be better served reading up on New Zealand's TRUE recorded history instead of learning 'te reo'.

Anonymous said...

It’s not uncommon to hear people say they no longer watch television News. Now Willie has gone they can reinvent themselves. New Zealanders voted for change and the State owned broadcasters (Public Servants) are NOT exempt.

Anonymous said...

For many years I listened to Radio New Zealand and loved it. But then it became politicised and pushed an agenda. That’s when I stopped listening. I know others feel the same. It’s a shame. I’m not sure they will ever get their audience back.

Gaynor said...

I became very aware of the tyranny of this Te Reo take-over while at the Kapiti Library when I asked recently for English phonic readers for children.

I was informed by the the assertive librarian who was also a teacher, that English wasn't phonic but Maori was. Taken aback by this appalling ignorance I informed her that English was 87% phonic and written Maori was only phonic because early translators had created, the limited vocabulary, that way.

I Have also learned that children and parents are being informed by some schools Maori being phonic is a superior and a much easier to learn to read language than English. Unfortunately Maori vowels are different from English ones and this is confusing to beginner readers and writers who already have difficulties handling English's admittedly fiendish spellings.

I refuse to learn Te Reo since I believe English needs defending. It is a rich and magnificent language with tremendous subtlety of thought which has made it The International Language.

boudicca said...

ENGLISH is in fact NOT an official language. Only Te Reo and NZ Sign Language are. I believe the new government will finally make English official!

Anonymous said...

The Moriori genocide was the mass murder and enslavement of the Moriori people, the indigenous ethnic group of the Chatham Islands, by members of the mainland New Zealand iwi Ngāti Mutunga and Ngāti Tama from 1835 to the early 1860s. [ source Wikipedia]. One might add genocide enabled by deceit.

Both iwi names publicly used in Nelson.


Robert Arthur said...

If the msm were not so sold on the Labour/Te pati maori uber alles agenda much critical objective and ridiculing comment could be levelled at te reo. There is constant confussion as to whether maori words refer to maori or to all (whanau, rangitahi, mahi). Often a general case is established on basis that apply to all, then restricted to maori. The very low maori blood content of many who claim maori favours is absurd. As is the number of words invented in recent times. I suspect that an English dictonary with later technical devices ommitted wouldnot be greatly different from 1840, but the maori one is inflated to several times the size.It was the paucity of the language which lead to all the metaphorical descriptions which, used today on the te ao/tikanga pretext, makes for graet confusion.

Anonymous said...

technically... since maori is a spoken language, shouldn't the signs be replaced with a button that one can press to hear the info in maori? same for books that should be replaced with audiobooks as the only option for maori!

Anonymous said...

ENGLISH was the only official language until (you guessed it) LABOUR decided that New Zealand was SO special, that it needed two more official languages, te reo in 1987 and sign in 2006.

Anonymous said...

Child's refers to the Native people of NZ as one people. The Polynesian arrival 1350 or later entered a populated country. The name Maori came into use after European arrival. The original people were several including Lapita. Moriori. Patupaiarehe. Turehu and others.