An angry mom has spoken out after her daughter's kindergarten shortened her name because they found it "too hard to pronounce."
Mahinarangi Tautu had only just started to attend the day center in New Zealand when staff told her Maouri mom that they'd shorten her name to "Rangi." Now, as hard as the little girl's name may be to pronounce, it really wasn't the nursery's call to cut it down for their own ease.
They told the distraught parent that Mahinarangi's name, which means "moon in the sky", is "too hard to pronounce."
And to make things worse, children at the daycare center have been laughing at Mahinarangi's real name, leaving her so embarrassed that she no longer tries to correct people when they say her name incorrectly.
Paris Tautu has now spoken out in fury after the incident, pleading with parents to remind their children about the importance of their names if it is a traditional part of their culture.
Speaking to the New Zealand Herald, 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.
And in Paris' culture, not giving someone their full name can actually be seen as a sign of disrespect.
In a community Facebook post, Paris wrote: "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'm 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 explained that her ancestors endured a similar experience, making her even more determined to make sure her daughter's name is pronounced correctly and not changed.
Maori culture is an incredibly important part of life in New Zealand and it influences cuisine, customs, and language. The indigenous people of New Zealand came to the country more than 1000 years ago from their mythical Polynesian homeland of Hawaiki, which is the original home of the Polynesians in Polynesian mythology. Interestingly, it also features the underworld in many Maori stories.
So, you can see why Paris is determined to educate people on her daughter's name and heritage... It's definitely something to be proud of!
"My ancestors changed their original name from Perepe-Perana to Philips because of colonization. I will not let something similar happen with my daughter."
In an effort to help her daughter introduce herself with pride, Paris has taught Mahinarangi to break down her name into single syllables to educate people in saying her name correctly.
"It's important for our kids to be confident in their names, regardless of their ethnicity," Paris said.
Let's hope the people at Mahinarangi's kindergarten soon come to their senses and start showing this little girl the respect she deserves.