Every country I go to,
every location I visit,
whether the place name is in the indigenous language
or in English, French, Portuguese, German or Spanish,
I always wonder about the name of the place,
and then look up online for its meaning and origin.
Oftentimes in places such as those in the Pacific Islands,
the change made to a place name is a direct result of colonisation.
Hence by getting to know a place by its real name,
you are looking into a slice of its history
and understanding the true nature
of a place and its people a little better.
Ruapehu consists of 2 words in Te Reo:
Rua = 2, Pehu = to explode.
Makes sense that this volcanic mountain is named after its nature as the "exploding pit"
When you visit Rotorua and go for a walk at Te Whakarewarewa,
at least refer to it as Whaka-rewarewa,
the short version of its full name.
It's the least we can do to honour this land to which we are but a visitor.
There's a whole history that comes with this piece of land,
you can read more about it here.
There are many examples I've so far come across for the places that I'd been.
I made sure to look into the meanings of their names when I was there,
so that I would be more understanding and more respectful towards these places.
Vanuatu means "Our Land";
Tonga means "South",
the main island Tongatapu means Sacred South,
and signifies that this is a blessed land for the people;
Niue means "Look (at all the) coconuts!",
which is what the people cried out when they first sailed here;
Viti Levu (the main island of Fiji) means "Islands Galore",
and "viti" itself also is the correct name, not "Fiji",
"Fiji" is a butchering of the pronunciation of "viti".
Likewise, it bothers me that:
e.g. Uluru is still being referred as "Ayers Rock"
when you book a flight there or in encyclopedia;
Aoraki is still more widely known as "Mount Cook";
Aotearoa is officially known to the world as "New Zealand";
Te Waipounamu is still usually referred as South Island.
Names are important.
The name you give to a child, even to a dog,
could influence their actual character/personality.
They could either live by the signification of their name,
But what would you expect their behaviours to be like
if you named your dogs Storm, Trouble & Chaos?
I named my puppy Binah,
because I want to remind people that
understanding is the key to wisdom.
there is no love and no peace.
Today is the day given to us to reflect on the impact of Te Tiriti.
For me, honouring te tiriti means
and allowing trust to rebuild in the process.
Giving each other space to make decision for oneself,
trusting in the other to do what's best for themselves.
Live and let live.
Maori leadership was hospitable to the foreign colonies at the beginning,
when the British sailers started causing trouble when living here,
Maori chiefs invited the British to settle here while try to govern by their own rule of law.
Yet the Crown representatives were not respectful in return.
When the Crown got Maori chiefs to sign a written treaty,
they greatly dishonoured themselves
by cheating in the translation,
while showing a severe lack of understanding
of the true nature to the right of self-governance
vs full sovereignty and freedom.
And the translation was not the only problem with Te Tiriti.
It is of course an ongoing slow process
for Aotearoa to rebuild all the lost trust
with the current and future generations of Maori.
Despite the gradual steps kiwis have been taking
to right the wrongs of the past.
So much wrong has been done...
But I think,
one can at least start off with the fundamental -
by paying attention to the names
âand the meanings of names,
by calling places and people by their true names,
and pronouncing the names correctly
with a conscious and dedicated effort.
It is NOT "Mount Cook", it is "Aoraki";
It is not "New Zealand", it is "Aotearoa";
Do you know the meaning of "Kaikoura"?
Do you know what "Ruapehu" means?
What about "Whakatane" or "Whangarei"?
If not, look them up.
Are you saying "Lake Roto-iti "or "Lake Roto-rua"?
Because that's redundant,
"roto" already means "lake".
All cities need to return to their original place names in Te Reo
as much as the physical regional zoning permits;
People can try better at eliminating the rrr sound
when it comes to the "r" in Te Reo,
and pronounce all the "-au" correctly;
Google Translate needs to change "Maori" to Te Reo.
These are the most basic things one can practice,
but pronouncing them correctly makes a big difference in your engagement with native speakers of Te Reo,
and it demonstrates one's respect and attention towards another language
showing sensitivity and awareness of the intricacies in a different culture.
Respect, and ye shall be respected.
Europe has a lot of countries,
and thanks to EURO zone,
it's the easiest way to travel
without having to cross strict borders & customs
or doing endless PCRs..
I came up with 4 main routes
+ 1 for Iceland & Greenland
that'll help cover all of Europe.
Route 1 (13 countries) :
Britain (Ireland, Scotland, England)
⇘ France ⇑ Belgium ⇘ Luxemburg ⇑ Switzerland ⇗
Liechtenstein ⇗ Austria ⇒ Hungary ⇑ Slovakia ⇑
Poland ⇙ Czech Republic ⇙ Germany ⇖ Netherlands
Route 2 ( 10 + 2 countries) :
Portugal ⇗ Spain ⇗ Andorra ⇗
Monaco ⇒ Italy + Vatican + San Marino ⇓
Malta ⇗ Greece ⇖ Albania ⇗
North Macedonia ⇖ Kosovo
Route 3 ( 11 countries) :
Denmark ⇑ Norway ⇒ Sweden ⇒
Finland ⇘ Russia ⇐ Estonia ⇓
Latvia ⇓ Lithuania ⇘ Belarus ⇘
Ukraine ⇙ Moldova
Route 4 ( 7 countries ):
Slovenia ⇘ Croatia ⇘ Bosnia &
Herzegovina ⇘ Montenegro ⇒ Serbia ⇒
Bulgaria ⇑ Romania
last but definitely not least -
Route 5 (2 countries ):
Greenland & Iceland
(which is very cheap to fly from New York)
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