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Te Tauihu policy to make te reo more visible in Wellington

The gifting of the name Te Ngākau by mana whenua to Civic Square on 14 June was the first step towards making te reo a core part of Wellington’s identity, ensuring it is widely seen, heard and spoken in the capital.

Wellington City Council has confirmed its final te reo policy, Te Tauihu, and agreed that the capital will be a te reo city, says Mayor Justin Lester.

“It is a public statement of our commitment to the language – an acknowledgement of the mana of Māori culture and values, of our joint history and of the whakapapa of our rohe.”

Te Ngākau (“the heart”) was gifted to the city by Taranaki Whānui ki Te Upoko o Te Ika.

It relates to the concept of Civic Square being the centre and the heart of our city for all ages, cultures and gatherings, Taranaki Whānui Chairman Wayne Mulligan says.

“The Te Tauihu policy is crucial to us as iwi as it speaks to how we will restore, revitalise and strengthen our reo Māori for our future generations.

“We are honoured to gift the use of Te Ngākau to the city as a symbol how this policy aims to place te reo Māori into the heart of our people and nation.”

The name will go before the Council’s City Strategy Committee for formal adoption on 21 June.

The Council and mana whenua are also working on te reo Māori names for Botanic Gardens and the Town Belt, the Mayor Justin Lester says.

He acknowledged the leadership of Deputy Mayor Jill Day in the development of the policy and work towards making te reo more visible and accessible.

“Council will lead the way in incorporating te reo in its decision-making processes and functions, in how it communicates, through city signage, facilities, design and through cultural investment,” said Day.

“This is a big task, not only for the Council, but for all of us – schools, businesses, shops and food places, public transport – places we gather, places we go and in the home.”

The policy was dedicated to the Council’s kaiārahi, Billie Tait-Jones, who passed away in November 2017.

An action plan will now be created in collaboration with mana whenua and key stakeholders and will set out the pathway towards a te reo Māori city by 2040.

Te Ngākau – The Heart

· Definition: Ngākau (noun) seat of affections, heart, mind, soul (Māori Dictionary).

· The site of Civic Square has significance to iwi. It is a site of tauranga waka and a food (kaimoana) source for Te Aro Pā.

· Waimapihi was one of the names iwi considered for Civic Square. The Waimapihi stream flowed to the former beach/shore within the Civic precinct.

· According to The Great Harbour of Tara by Adkin, Mapihi was a chieftainess of Ngāi Tara and Ngāti Mamoe who used to bathe in the pool at the upper course of the stream – hence the name ‘stream of Mapihi – Waimapihi’.

· However iwi further considered the nature of the activity in Civic Square – a place for everyone.

· The name Te Ngākau, a contemporary te reo Māori name, was preferred to ensure all who live, work and play here in Wellington can continue to feel connected to this space.

· It is based on the concept of Civic Square being the heart of public use and access for all ages to culture and gathering. Civic Square is a place where whānau visit for a variety of reasons – all of which have a connection to rēhia (excite), ako (educate) and kai (energy).