Mehrtens makes the effort for Māori names

By Raniera Harrison

The pronunciation of Māori players' names is back in the scope of professional rugby.

And it's an unlikely candidate taking the helm on mainstream broadcasts, a former All Black first-five who is ensuring his pronunciation is right on the mark.

Mainstream sports broadcasters have for a long time butchered Māori names.

But by the looks of things, the tide is turning.

Andrew Mehrtens is proving his ability, “just for respect of names and stuff like that, we should make that effort.”

He's the surprising one out of the bunch Super Rugby commentator Mehrtens is standing resolute as an ambassador for Te Reo Māori.

He says. “When I grew up I was speaking Māori till I was 11 or 12 probably, and then moved in to the city and lost it all.”

Mehrtens has been busy inserting Māori words into his rugby commentary to tell a better story to the viewers.

He says, “I'll say a place name or something and I won’t have made the effort to pronounce it correctly, I hear myself and go you lazy prick.”

Keeping in mind that Māori names have a wider significance.

Otere Black of Ngāi Tūhoe says, “I've kind of become used to it now.

They are not Māori speakers, so I can see how it would be hard for them.”

And now Māori broadcasters are congratulating Mehrtens on his development.

Māori broadcaster Dale Husband says, “The efforts made by our old people 30 and 40 years ago I think are paying dividends now.”

It’s that same old song. If Te Reo Māori is a national language, how could you not learn it?

Dale Husband says, “It's great now that we see young broadcasters, Pākehā, coming out. Very comfortable with Maniapoto and Ōtorohanga, and Ōtāhūhū, and Pakuranga, rather than Pakuranga, and Otahu of yesteryear.”

It's an example for everyone. Māori and Pākehā alike.

Mehrtens says, “One of the biggest compliments I reckon any of the boys ever paid me was when I was laughing with Alama Ieremia, and he said, "Oh bro! You're so white, but you're black on the inside."

Here is where the Māori professional sportsmen will win the biggest battle of them all.

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