Mahinarangi Tautu: NZ daycare shortens child’s name ‘too hard’ to pronounce. Picture: Facebook
Mahinarangi Tautu: NZ daycare shortens child’s name ‘too hard’ to pronounce. Picture: Facebook

Fury as child’s name ‘too hard’ for teacher

A New Zealand mother has shared her anger at being told her daughter's name was being shortened at daycare because it was "too hard" to pronounce.

Five-year-old Mahinarangi Tautu had just started at daycare when her mum Paris was informed staff would be using "Rangi" to refer to her daughter.

But the Ngāti Raukawa woman said she "will not let this happen" as it doesn't respect and honour her daughter's Māori heritage.

"I am sad that in 2021, in Aotearoa, a 5-year-old girl has lost the pride that comes with her beautiful name," Ms Tautu wrote in a Facebook post, The NZ Herald reports.

Ms Tautu explained Mahinarangi's name is often mispronounced and mocked by her peers, leaving the young girl "embarrassed" and lacking the confidence to correct anyone.

"Can you imagine your child being too embarrassed to say their name because people won't make a decent effort to pronounce it properly?" she said.

"It made me so angry, especially because they'd use te ao Māori resources in her classes."

Five-year-old Mahinarangi Tautu has had her name shortened at daycare because the teacher said it’s ‘too hard’ to pronounce. Picture: Facebook
Five-year-old Mahinarangi Tautu has had her name shortened at daycare because the teacher said it’s ‘too hard’ to pronounce. Picture: Facebook

The outraged mother has since spoken out, saying her ancestors had experienced something similar, making her even more determined to not let the same thing happen to her daughter.

"My ancestors changed their original name from Perepe-Perana to Phillips because of colonisation," Tautu told the NZ Herald. "I will not let something similar happen with my daughter."

Mahinarangi's name translates to "moon in the sky", with Ms Tautu explaining that shortening it takes away its "mana" - a traditional Māori belief of an inherited spiritual power.

The name has been passed down through her ancestors and has a deep line of descent, known as whakapapa, which often indicates where someone is from.

Not giving someone the mana their name deserves takes away the significance of its meaning and can be seen as a lack of respect.

"It's important for our kids to be confident in their names, regardless of their ethnicity," Ms Tautu said.

"Our language isn't complicated, pronouncing a name properly is massive to us.

"Your name is your identity. Your parents give you your name for a reason."

Her mum Paris is furious as it is disrespectful to their Māori heritage. Picture: Facebook
Her mum Paris is furious as it is disrespectful to their Māori heritage. Picture: Facebook

Social media has erupted in support for the family, with people slamming the daycare for being "disrespectful" and "lazy".

"Too lazy to pronounce … my kid's school refuse to pronounce their Maori properly too, done on purpose every time, I cringe because it is sooo disrespectful," one wrote on Facebook.

"Good on this mum for taking a stand," another said.

"That teacher needs to step up and learn just as her students are expected to do, lead by example," someone else added.

While one wrote: "This is wrong. the teacher needs to wake up."

Continue the conversation @RebekahScanlan | rebekah.scanlan@news.com.au

Originally published as Fury as child's name 'too hard' for teacher



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