Paris Tautu, who is of Maori descent, is urging parents to remind their children about the importance of their name if it is traditional and part of their culture
A furious mum has spoken out after discovering her daughter’s nursery has shortened her name because it is ‘too hard to pronounce’.
Mahinarangi Tautu had just started to attend the day centre in New Zealand when her Maori mum Paris was told that staff would call the then five-year-old “Rangi”.
They told the horrified parent they found Mahinarangi’s traditional Maori name, which means ‘moon in the sky’, too hard to pronounce.
In a further twist Paris said cruel children laugh at her daughter’s traditional name and didn’t even bother to try and pronounce it.
The bullying has left Mahinarangi so distraught she no longer tries to correct people when they say her name wrong.
Paris said her daughter’s name from the Ngāti Raukawa heritage has been passed down through several generations and has a deep line of descent, known as whakapapa, which often shows where someone is from.
Not giving someone their full name can be seen as a lack of respect.
In a community Facebook post, Paris said: “Can you imagine your child being too embarrassed to say their name because people won’t make a decent effort to pronounce it properly?”
“I am sad that in 2021, in Aotearoa, a 5-year-old girl has lost the pride that comes with her beautiful name.
“It made me so angry, especially because they’d use Maori resources in her classes.”
Paris told New Zealand Herald that her ancestors endured a similar experience which has made her even more determined to make sure her daughter’s name is pronounced correctly and not changed.
She said: “My ancestors changed their original name from Perepe-Perana to Phillips because of colonisation.
“I will not let something similar happen with my daughter.”
Paris said she has taught Mahinarangi to break down her name into single syllables to educate people and help them to say her name correctly.
She is also urging other parents to remind their children about the importance of their name if it is traditional and part of their culture.
“It’s important for our kids to be confident in their names, regardless of their ethnicity,” she said.