14 Oct 2014

Hapu offended at spelling of island

8:22 am on 14 October 2014

The Maori Council says the Bay of Plenty Regional Council should listen to a Motiti Island hapu who want the spelling of the island's name corrected.

The Motiti Rohemoana Trust says the place name should be spelled without macrons, but it has macrons in official documentation. It says the Ministry for the Environment and the Bay of Plenty Regional Council put macrons on the name and this changes its meaning.

Motiti without macrons is a contraction of the words 'motu-iti', or 'small island'. But with macrons on every vowel, it becomes 'burrow for muttonbirds'.

The trust says spelling Motiti with macrons is deeply offensive to Motiti tangata whenua and this abuse of Te Reo has to stop.

Maori Council co-chair Maanu Paul agrees, saying the council is not listening to the minority and is practising institutional racism. He said the regional council should meet with Motiti Island tangata whenua.

But the Mauao constituency regional councillor, Awanui Black, said the council is not being racist and not everyone on the island agrees how the word should be spelled.

Mr Black said a professional translator provided the council with the macron spelling, but that decision could be reviewed if agreement is reached.

Mr Black said the hui should happen on the island in the next couple of weeks.

The Environment Ministry said it would ensure that Motiti is spelled correctly in all future reports and correspondence.

The New Zealand Geographic Board spells the place name without macrons. But the entry on the board's New Zealand Gazetteer said it is not an official name.

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