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Marcus Lush shuts down woman who insists on mispronouncing Māori place names

Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 26 Oct 2019, 12:49PM

Marcus Lush shuts down woman who insists on mispronouncing Māori place names

Vera Alves, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Sat, 26 Oct 2019, 12:49PM

A clip of an exchange between a radio show host and two listeners has gone viral on social media, after the callers argued it was their right to mispronounce Māori words.

Newstalk ZB host Marcus Lush was shocked to receive two calls during his show on Thursday night from New Zealand-born women who insisted on mispronouncing the Māori names of the places where they'd been born.

Even after being told the correct pronunciation, both callers made it clear they would never start pronouncing it properly and insisted that it was their right to say the place name the way they'd always been told to say it.

"If I told you how it was pronounced, would you do it?," the host asked the first caller, an 83-year-old woman from Ōpoho, Dunedin.

"No. Because it's mine. My region," the woman replied.

The caller insisted she meant "no disrespect to anyone" but the host pointed out it was disrespectful as he said the caller was "being wilfully ignorant".

"Like hell I am," she responded.

A second caller, from Mosgiel, rang up to express her solidarity with the other listener saying "an elderly person should be respected in the way she grew up".

"We don't talk like that down here," the caller said.

"Wow. You are extraordinary. This call almost should go into Te Papa," Lush replied. "You are deliberately misrepresenting a language."

Lush asked the listeners if they would pronounce the cheese "camemberte". The second caller said she wouldn't because she is "educated".

"No, you call it Camembert because it's how it's pronounced," the radio host answered.

With the woman insisting she was not pronouncing the names wrongly, Lush asked her who she think named the places.

"I couldn't care less," she replied.

The caller said she refused to pronounce place names "the way you people think it should be pronounced".

"Goodness gracious me," Lush replied, incredulous. "Why are you so threatened by this?"

The caller insisted she is not mispronouncing the names. "It's the way it is," she said.

The clip was uploaded to Facebook and has since gone viral, with more than 72,000 views and 3000 shares in less than 24 hours.

Social media users were, for the most part, shocked by the calls.

"Racism is alive and well in the south," one person said on Facebook.

"Do they not understand that these are Māori words? Like, Camembert is a French word... it's another language? They are absolutely adamant that they are correct in what they are saying. Pig headed, stubborn and IGNORANT. 83, 49 who cares! You're saying it wrong whether you grew up there or not," another person said.

"If you don't know, you don't know. But if you now know. You know. So why is it so difficult to go with the flow of what you now know," someone else commented.

"Oh gosh ... they both say 'because I'm educated'. Education goes beyond French classes at "Tyree" high school ladies. So I'm guessing they never educated themselves on why their areas were named as such?" another Facebook user added.

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