If you’re looking to get silly, you’d better go back to from where you came

Dear Martin Warriner,

In objecting to the addition of macrons to Māori place names on the Kāpiti coast, you are quoted as saying that you “emigrated to New Zealand, not to “Māoriland”.” For your information, this is New Zealand, this is how we do. I understand you feel as if your colonial superiority is under siege, but how’s this: we won’t tell you how to represent your culture, and you don’t tell us how to do ours. Fair enough?

If not, it isn’t too late to piss off back home if you don’t like it. Perhaps you could take John Ansell with you.


20 thoughts on “If you’re looking to get silly, you’d better go back to from where you came

  1. I agree lew – when he first used the phrase “I didn’t come to Māoriland’ in Nov 2010 my response was that this is Māoriland and “I’d prefer immigrants with this attitude to go away. We don’t need antiquated ideas based on race hatred bought in by some immigrant – we have enough already thanks.” At that time he had forced the council to issue him with a personalised (minus the macron) rates invoice – he said then that “using the macron was “offensive to the New Zealand language”.” LOL and that “If the small things that are “against democracy” are not sorted out then New Zealand can “forget the big ones”.

    Another vote for brash i suppose as if he needs it with the Epsom deal now done or maybe he can stand for them.

  2. Thanks Marty, I wasn’t aware of that history. Which I should be, since I live there now, and did so at the time.


  3. Surely not using the macron is offensive to “the New Zealand language” given that Māori is an official language and English isn’t?

  4. Mike, English is in fact an official language of New Zealand (with Māori and NZ Sign Language). The point turns on the fact that the words to which macrons have been added are Māori words.

    It’s not like we’re forcing him to call himself Mārtin Wārriner (although that is analogous to what he wants us to do).


  5. As far as I was aware it is still only a de facto language. It wasn’t really against or for the point, I just though it a weird euphemism to use for “the Queen’s English” since NZ English is distinguished from the former almost entirely by its inclusion of Māori words and phrases.

  6. Warriner’s quest has been going on for a while, and has led to a NZ Press Council ruling summarised as:

    ‘Martin Warriner, of Paraparaumu, complained that The Kapiti Observer had failed to adequately retract and correct a statement that he “hates” the macron, a diacritic that the Kapiti Coast District Council was using – in his view illegally – over the district name in its documents.
    The complaint is not upheld.’


  7. For what it’s worth, ‘Kapiti’ with a macron does mean ‘cabbage’, but you have to assume that there’s some basis behind the Council’s decision. And Warriner is still being a dick even if the macron really shouldn’t be there.

  8. Mike, the New Zealand Constitution Act of 1986 defines English and Maori as the official languages of New Zealand. Of course “official language”, despite what many people think, carries with it no legal privileges or obligations beyond the purely symbolic and it’s other laws (Compulsory instruction in English in the Education Act, English proficiency requirements in the Immigration Act) that give the language its functionally important place in the country’s public life.

  9. “English is in fact an official language of New Zealand (with Māori and NZ Sign Language). ”

    Interestingly … not.

    Maori is an official language by virtue of the Maori Language Act 1987. Sign language is an official language by virtue of the New Zealand Sign Language Act 2006. English is the de facto default language because everyone is expected to be able to speak it.

    And Hugh, the Constitution Act 1986 says nothing at all about languages.

  10. Huh, seems you’re right Andrew. I dunno where I got that idea from.

    Still, I stand by what I said that, even if English is technically not an official language, it is enshrined in law to a far greater degree than New Zealand sign language, which is. The term “official language” is entirely symbolic and carries with it absolutely zero legal substance.

    I’d say that people are not only expected to speak English, they are legally required to do so (although exceptions can be made).

  11. Hugh,

    Sure … the Maori Language Act, for example, which recognises Maori as an official language says that you may speak Maori in court proceedings (s.4), but aside from this the official status of the language does not “affect any right that any person has … to receive or impart any communication in Maori”. So, it is an official language that does not HAVE to be used in any particular context.

    English, otoh, has no “official” status as a language … but (as you say) it has to be used in virtually all official situations.

  12. Surely not using the macron is offensive to “the New Zealand language” given that Māori is an official language and English isn’t?

    The Maori Language Act 1987, which makes Maori an official language of New Zealand, does not contain macrons.

  13. Never mind Maori, New Zealand sign language is an official language, and is legally differentiated from Swahili or Basque in absolutely no manner whatsoever.

  14. Next time you decide to get all hoiy toity you might check you own language, or lack of it.

    You might have been better off with:-

    ” back to whence you came”

  15. And the next time you decide to get all hoity-toity, Adolf, you might like to check your details.

    The joke is on you, there’s nobody even here to bluff. Go on back to No Minister; I do believe you’ve had enough.


  16. Poor old Adolf missed the subtle literary allusion! The irony of Werringer’s argument that we’re not living in ‘Maoriland’ is that that very word was used, for long decades, as the de facto name of this country by Pakeha politicians and newspapers. Anyone remember the Maoriland Worker?

    There’s a campaign by members and supporters of the Pasifika community to make Niuean, Tokelauan, Cook Islands Maori, Tongan, and Samoan into official languages of this country – though the organisers of the campaign don’t propose to give the five languages equal status to English or Maori. A petition is being blessed tomorrow night before it heads off to Wellington – I’m hoping to make it to the ceremony. http://www.labour.org.nz/node/2901

  17. I would think that the Kapiti council would have more useful and beneficial items on which to spend $20000 of ratepayer money.

  18. Scott, something was happening here, but he didn’t know what it was.

    I also thought of that historic usage of ‘Maoriland’, particularly the case of Reed’s Myths and Legends of Maoriland from the middle century which, without being unkind, seems likely to be about Warriner’s vintage. I’d forgotten the Maoriland Worker.

    The other thing that struck me when listening to The Panel discussing this on Radio New Zealand yesterday (audio, the relevant bit starts at approx. 8min) is the same argument I made regarding Brash and Ansell’s race views recently — how far out on the fringe Warriner’s line of argument is nowadays. During the Whanganui ‘h debate’ just a couple of years ago the “sensible moderate” view was considerably more sympathetic to the position of Michael Laws and the neocolonialists, and at the very least their arguments were granted a serious hearing, rather than being minimised as vexatious or trivial, as Warriner’s arguments have been.

    (The other other thing I reflected on was how much work it takes for a host to remain perfectly agreeable. I think I have a newfound respect for Jim Mora, who never fails at this, even when his guests’ views are patently absurd and offensive.)


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