Personal reflections on urbanism, urban life and sustainable urban design in Wellington, New Zealand.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Who owns Te Reo?

Here's a wonderful way to start Te Wiki O Te Reo Māori: there's an article in today's DomPost about someone who wants to block the Taranaki Wharf wharenui because he claims "established legal rights" to the word wharenui.

Now, if he were a representative of a Māori group opposed to commercial appropriation of Māori culture and language, then I'd have some sympathy. But it's the opposite case: the objector is the owner of Wharenui Apartments in Oriental Bay, and the new wharenui is being promoted by the Wellington Tenths Trust.

It appears that the objector doesn't have a legal leg to stand on, but his sheer gall and cultural offensiveness is breathtaking. Given that wharenui is an everyday word in Māori, literally translating as big house, perhaps it's time for a Māori group to claim rights to the word apartment.


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