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Pronunciation of Members' Names

Pronunciation of Members' Names

Statement from Te Ururoa Flavell, Party Whip, Maori Party

Wednesday 9 April 2008; 2pm

I seek clarification on a matter before the House.

Madam Speaker, last night during the debate of the Copyright (New Technologies) Amendment Bill, the Speaker sought clarification from Mr Christopher Finlayson as to whether he should be referred to as “Chris” which is what she had written in front of her, or as “Christopher”.

Mr Finlayson responded saying that “I made it very clear when I came here that out of respect to the House, not out of respect to me, that I thought that I should be called by my full name”.

The Maori Party has reflected on this matter in general and would like to present the following ideas for further consideration.

If I can now refer to Hansards in Volume 633, Page 4654 in a discussion on Mispronunciation—Māori Language and Members’ Names. The Assistant Speaker Ann Hartley stated that the presiding officers had made a ruling, this being and I quote:

“To pronounce a word differently from the way in which another member pronounces that word is not a matter of order. There are many different ways to pronounce English words and I presume that this is true of Māori words too. No member in this House has the monopoly of directing how a word is to be pronounced. But if a member deliberately mispronounces a word—particularly another member’s name—so as to create disorder, then that is out of order and the Speaker, on the Speaker’s own initiative or on the matter being raised as a point of order, will intervene.”

Madam Speaker, the point we are raising in terms of names in the House, is that mispronunciation of words can cause offence and lead to misunderstandings.

Secondly, the presumption according to the Speaker’s ruling, is that the Speaker in intervening has a level of competency in Maori Language pronunciation which would allow them to intervene appropriately. If this is not the case, the Maori Party would respectfully suggest that the Speaker’s ruling of the 2nd August 2006 needs to be revisited.

We request this as our members are continually offended by the mispronunciation of our names and we do not wish to continually cause delays in the House by raising points of order regarding this. We hope this House will demonstrate maturity by pronouncing correctly, one of the two official languages of this country.

In closing this matter Madam Speaker, I on behalf of the Maori Party, like Mr Finlayson, suggest that out of respect to this House, we in the Maori Party wish to advise members that our names are Tariana Turia, Pita Sharples, Hone Harawira and Te Ururoa Flavell. We implore all Members of this House to call us by our proper names and pronounce them correctly. Tena koutou katoa.


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