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‘Rapa Valley’ name offensive

Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa general manager Taiawhio Gemmell. PHOTO/KAREN COLTMAN



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The ‘Rapa Valley’ is pitched as exclusive Martinborough lifestyle blocks, and most are sold, but some Maori are offended at the slang use of te reo and want the name of the development changed.

“At Rapa Valley Country Estate, you will be inspired to build your dream country home on one of these exclusive lifestyle blocks,” the advertisement reads.

“These private and exclusive blocks will offer a fantastic community feel whilst offering the peace and tranquility that Rapa Valley has to offer.”

All but one of the 11, 3.2ha to 4.96ha land blocks have sold, and two are under offer.

At a South Wairarapa District Council meeting this week, Featherston resident and former councillor Lee Carter said she urgently wanted the development’s road name settled to something that has relevance and meaning to the area.

The development is off Moiki Rd which joins with Bidwell’s Cutting Rd.

“Moiki is a very special place and needs a proper name that is fitting for Wairarapa,” she said.

She intended to raise the matter with the Maori Standing Committee.

South Wairarapa District Council chief executive Harry Wilson said the marketing names of subdivisions were chosen by developers and are not approved by council.

“Some members of our community have raised concerns that the marketing name Rapa Valley is disrespectful to Maori, and although this is outside Council’s mandate, we have passed this feedback on to the developer.

“The new road leading into the subdivided lots off Moiki Rd is in the process of having its name approved by the Greytown Community Board, as per Council policy.”

Ngati Kahungunu General Manager Taiawhio Gemmell said he saw this kind of slang use of Maori words from time to time and said it seemed to be a “trendy thing” at the moment.

“For Maori, everything is in a name, these names came about through stories and mean something, you can’t just cut them up as you like,” Gemmell said.

“Wairarapa is about the rippling waters of the lake and the view from the Remutaka peak and created by a Maori man on a journey while he grieved his dead wife.

“It is offensive to cut the name in half just like it is offensive to Maori to shorten the name Taranaki to ‘the Naki’.”

He said ‘rapa’ in te reo meant a clap of thunder and was not reflective of the Wairarapa area or the weather particularly, which is known for its wind rather than thunderstorms.

“We want the name of the development changed.”

The developer has responded to the criticism saying that the term was adopted as a way to market the property, but it doesn’t need to remain as the name of the subdivision if the new owners want it called something else.

He offered his apology for any offence felt and did not intend this when he elected to reduce the word Wairarapa to rapa.

Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland
Emily Ireland is Wairarapa’s Local Democracy Reporter, a Public Interest Journalism role funded through NZ On Air. Emily has worked at the Wairarapa Times-Age for seven years and has a keen interest in council decision-making and transparency.

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