MNZ Submission to Support NZ Geographic Board's Proposal
News I 6 January 2016
Submission by Multicultural New Zealand, the NZ Federation of Multicultural Councils, to support the NZ Geographic Board's proposal to rename certain geographic features in North Canterbury that contain the word "Nigger".
Multicultural New Zealand offers a collective voice for ethnic, migrant and refugee New Zealanders. It has 18 constituent local multicultural councils as well as national advisory councils for women, seniors, youth and business.
Our organisation was not aware of the existence of the place names Nigger Hill, Nigger Stream and Niggerhead in North Canterbury before the media publicity surrounding the decision of the NZGB to recommend a change. We were shocked that such names were still officially recorded in New Zealand. We count amongst our members many Africans and other people of colour, to whom this is not just an academic question - sadly it is still not uncommon for people of colour to be racially abused by being called 'nigger' and other derogatory and offensive words. We can assure you from personal experience that the term 'nigger' is deliberately used in this country in circumstances where there can be no doubt that the intent is to offend, hurt and abuse. It is therefore contrary to the principles of racial equality enshrined in the NZ Bill of Rights Act and the Human Rights Act for such words to be given any form of official sanction.
We therefore strongly support the NZGB's proposal to change the names of Niggerhead to Tawhai Hill, Nigger Stream to Steelhead Stream and Nigger Hill to Kanuka Hills, subject to confirmation from Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu that the names are appropriate. We would also urge you to review the other place names that contain the words "Niger" and "Darkie" as identified in the NZGB Secretariat's report. And we wish to commend the person who has proposed these changes to the NZGB for their initiative.