Jack Tame: Don't like 'Aotearoa'? Don't say it

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 7 Aug 2021, 9:49AM
(Photo / File)
(Photo / File)

Jack Tame: Don't like 'Aotearoa'? Don't say it

Author
Jack Tame,
Publish Date
Sat, 7 Aug 2021, 9:49AM

The housing crisis. The Covid-19 vaccination rollout.

Asset inflation further widening the gap between rich and poor. Poverty. Coal imports. Fiji’s health crisis.

What actually constitutes safer policing.

The painfully slow rate of change in the mental health sector. Families separated by our closed borders. Three waters.

China’s increasing influence in the Pacific. Climate change mitigation. Superannuation. The immigration backlog.

Treaty settlements. Financial support for the survivors of March 15 attacks. Our slipping achievement in mathematics education. Local government reforms.

The nurses’ strikes. Disabled people’s appalling over-representation in poverty statistics. Crown-Māori relationships. The future of farming in New Zealand. Hate speech. Hate crimes. Significant Natural Areas. Public transport infrastructure.

There you go. Bam! Just off the top of my head: 25 issues that should be far more important to our politicians than a debate over whether we should call New Zealand, ‘Aotearoa.’

National MP Stuart Smith supports a referendum on the use of the word by people in the public sector. Judith Collins made no effort to quieten the debate. Talk radio has been wild with people who feel the name ‘Aotearoa’ is being shoved down their throats.

Please, regardless of how you feel about Aotearoa, ask yourself this: in the age of a global pandemic, growing sovereign debt, climate change, and an historic housing crisis, is this *really* the issue you want our policymakers to prioritise?

Because you’re being used. You’re being played. It’s cynical. They know this sort of issue stirs people up. They know that by throwing a few cans of gas on the fire, they can briefly be absolved of working on the issues that actually impact our lives and the future of our country.

I must confess, I was in two minds about whether or not to raise the subject. I know that in a way I’m playing into the game. But this is not an effort to stir up the debate. This is an effort to cauterise it. 

Here goes.

If you don’t like people on TV and radio using the word Aotearoa, you should familiarise yourself with an amazing power: agency. If you don’t like it, don’t listen to it. Grab your remote and turn it off. Watch or listen to something else. It’s really as simple as that. 

And if you truly feel threatened by a perceived growth in the use of the word Aotearoa, you feel it’s worthy of a national debate and even a national referendum, might I gently offer you a solution to get you through these dark times?

If you don’t like the name Aotearoa, don’t use it. No one’s forcing you to. No one’s holding you at gunpoint or at the threat of legal action. You won’t be hauled off in cuffs or stripped of citizenship if you choose to say New Zealand. You won’t even be misunderstood.

Don’t like it? Don’t say it! Ao-tea-no-a.

But know that just ‘cos you don’t use it doesn’t mean you’re not being used.