Ngā ingoa o Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Source: New Zealand Gazette.

Source: New Zealand Gazette.

It’s Māori Language Week, bitches!

Yesterday I saw that my improv colleague Jennifer O’Sullivan had changed her Twitter name to “Kōtea Patupaiarehe“, or ‘pale fairy’, the literal way-back-when meaning of “Jennifer”. I was inspired to discover my own best conversion into Māori, but to go hardout and do all three of my names. And none of this transliteration crap either, Mr Ropata.

Note: I did all this research before someone else pointed out that Te Reo educationalist Te Mihinga Komene was already running “Pimp My Ingoa” for the Twitterverse – that’s where Jen got her name done. With the caveat that Te Mihinga is an actual proper Te Reo speaker and I’m just a Pākehā who knows how to use Google, here goes.

“Robert” comes from the Old Germanic “Hruodberht”, which means ‘bright fame’. I could make it “Rongopurata” (rongo = fame, renown; purata = bright), but given that “Robbie” is a diminutive, let’s go with “Rongo”, which has the advantage of being a name already.

“Thomas” comes from the Aramaic for ‘twin’. Pretty easy literal translation there: “Māhanga”.

Where shit gets interesting is with my surname. “Ellis” apparently entered Great Britain following the Crusades as a loan name from Hebrew (related to Elias/Elijah). The Māori Bible names Elijah the Tishbite as “Iraia” (Kings 1 17:1), obviously a transliteration from English and unsatisfactory for my purposes.

So, let’s go back to the Hebrew. “Eliyahu” literally means ‘Jehovah/Yahweh is God’. The monotheistic Christian ‘God’ is called “Atua” (somewhat controversially given pre-European Māori spirituality but whatevs). But guess how ‘Jehovah’ is transliterated? That’s right: “Īhowa”.

So basically every time you sing the first line of the national anthem, “E Īhowa Atua”, you’re addressing all Ellises… and Elis, and Eliases, and Elijahs, and Eliassons, for that matter. Just don’t get me started on that line’s completely out-of-place skippy dotted quaver-semiquaver thing in the published version… yeah.

Anyway, I still haven’t found a non-transliterated surname. I could go with the clumsy but literal “Kō-Atua-Te-Atua”. Hmm. Seems a bit… repetitive.

Nah, screw it. My name on Twitter this Māori Language Week is:
Rongo Māhanga E-Īhowa-Atua.
Āmene to that, Aotearoa.