Threats and abuses launched against the Kiwi company after changing its name to the name te reo maori
A road transport organization in Aotearoa has been the victim of abuse, threats and racism after it announced a new branding featuring te reo Māori.
On September 15, the Road Transport Forum announced its new title, Ia Ara Aotearoa Transporting New Zealand, as a way to “embrace the vibe and culture of Aotearoa,” said Managing Director Nick Leggett.
But when the name change was announced on social media, Leggett said the organization was bombarded with angry and aggressive comments.
They accused the organization of having shot “woke up”, “garbage” and a “PC joke”. The most racist and offensive comments have been removed from the page, Leggett said.
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He was shocked at the backlash.
“I didn’t think it was a controversial decision at all, and I was surprised at the mean, threatening and racist language used.”
The negative comments had been “distressing” and showed a side of Aotearoa he didn’t like.
“It has exposed the belly of the country of people who for some reason feel threatened by the use of the Te reo Maori language. There is no room in Aotearoa for the racist and vile comments that we have seen spread on social media.
Leggett said he only read a few because they were so vile.
“What I saw, however, was quite abusive and insulting.”
Responding to commentators, Leggett said, “How does this threaten you? What are you worried about? “
Tutor Te reo Māori Anton Matthews was not surprised to hear of the reaction.
“I see it all the time on my own social media posts about te reo maori, and I’ve learned to ignore it.
“I think a lot of people who don’t engage in discussions about te reo don’t realize that there are people here in Aotearoa like that, but I think they are the minority in our country. “
Leggett said the organization’s new name was represented in both Te reo Maori and English.
“Maori drivers make up about 20% of our workforce, and we wanted to point out that the industry is open to a more diverse workforce. “
Translators who worked with the organization said Ia Ara Aotearoa could be translated as “every road in Aotearoa”.
The word “Ia” is also translated as a vessel or a vein, but can also mean to flow.
Hineihaea Murphy, director of Haemata, a Maori language and education company, said that the name of a business or organization, just like that of a person, is about identity, and there is no was nothing wrong with that.
“If a business or organization feels that having a Maori name better conveys its identity, what it values and what it is about, and it is an authentic expression of its identity, I don’t know what doesn’t. do not go ? “
Murphy said it was “a real shame” that anyone had to be exposed to negative reactions because of the use of the Maori language.
In recent years, a number of prominent organizations in Aotearoa have rebranded themselves to include a Maori name.
Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency revamped their logo in 2019, so Waka Kotahi was mentioned before NZ Transport Agency.
Waka Kotahi said the logo change was a way to give more prominence to the Maori name te reo, to ensure the language is more visible across the country.
In 2017, Child, Youth and Family was renamed Oranga Tamariki, and in 2019, Kāinga Ora replaced Housing New Zealand.
The New Zealand Insurance Council added Te Kāhui Inihua o Aotearoa to its name this year, as well as the Pensions Commission which changed its name to Te Ara Ahunga Ora Retirement Commission.
In 2020, one of the largest telecommunications companies in the country, Vodafone, changed its banners on top of users’ phones from “Vodafone NZ” to “VF Aotearoa”.
At the time, Vodafone spokesperson Nicky Preston said she wanted to show her continued support for te reo.
After that, a customer tweeted that he didn’t like the post, describing it as a “signal of awakened virtue”.
They added that their country was called New Zealand and said they would switch providers if the message remained.
The tweets drew a strong reaction from other social media users, with 2degrees and Spark backing Vodafone.
Matthews felt “generally positive” about organizations using te reo Maori names, as long as they did so for the right reasons.
“Whether this is done to adopt the language or help normalize it in our daily life, I totally agree.
“I would just caution organizations to make sure they speak to someone who is familiar with the language before choosing a name – don’t just check Google Translate.”
Matthews said companies could speak to local iwi, schools, universities or even their own whānau within their organizations who may know the language well.
For Maori te reo to become a more widely spoken language, Matthews said it needs to be standardized and seen in everyday places.
“We have to see it in supermarkets, on labels, in coffee shops, and I’m all for anyone trying to elevate the status of language.”
When it comes to racist or abusive comments online, Matthews said the best thing to do is call him up and tell the commenter it’s unacceptable.
“It doesn’t have to be an argument, just say ‘this is unacceptable’. Give nothing to racism.
To help the Maori language flourish, Matthews said there needs to be public participation at all levels.
“Just use a few words a day, not all of us need to be fluent, just keep it alive.
“Even just changing your name helps. Stick to it and ignore the naysayers.