'Heart' of Wellington rebirthed with new Māori name

3:34 pm on 14 June 2018

Wellington has been gifted a new Māori name for its Civic Square, following an announcement that the council will make te reo more visible around the city.

Civic Square will now also be known as, Te Ngākau, meaning 'the heart'.

Civic Square will now also be known as, Te Ngākau, meaning 'the heart'. Photo: RNZ/Richard Tindiller

Civic Square will now also be known as, Te Ngākau, meaning 'the heart', a gift from local iwi to symbolise the heart of the city.

Councillors today voted unanimously in favour of the reo Māori policy, which will see the council support businesses to embrace te reo and increase the visibility of the language through signage.

Emotions were running high for the city's deputy mayor, Jill Day, who has been at the forefront of the policy.

She said she was blown away by the amount of support she had received from councillors.

"It was a very emotional occasion for me, particularly hearing my colleagues express their desire to learn te reo Māori and that is exactly what we want," Ms Day said. "We want everyone to embrace it, it is for everyone.

"Get on board, jump in the waka, he waka eke noa, this is for us all, and we really want everyone on this journey."

The council received more than 500 public submissions on the policy, and 94 percent of those supported the move.

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Wellington Mayor Justin Lester Photo: RNZ / Richard Tindiller

Local iwi Ngāti Toa chairman Taku Parai said he woke up this morning with a smile as big as the Pacific Ocean.

He said today marked an important day for Māori and all New Zealanders.

"I think for us and all our whanaunga here, it's an earmark day, it's a day where we can celebrate us being Māori and New Zealanders and all those who embrace te reo and today the council has led by example.

"We're so excited after a long road of hard work by council officers and support by the mayor and deputy mayor Jill Day, we've come to this point. We're happy."

To mark the occasion the Dominion Post, the capital's leading newspaper, have temporarily changed their masthead to, Te Upoko o te Ika, meaning the head of the fish.

Local iwi Te Atiawa representative Wayne Mulligan said the policy had shown that the council saw value in te reo.

"This is one of the distinguishing points that makes New Zealand unique and let us share that with everyone else and as was quoted in the newspaper, we're all on this journey together and we look forward to people embracing it and going through their own little journey of te reo," Mr Mulligan said.

"It's more than a language, it is a life, it is art and culture, it is the essence of being part of New Zealand."

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