A typology of arguments for and against bilingual place-naming in Aotearoa New Zealand

Journal article by Nathan John Albury and Lyn Carter in Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development, 2017.

Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development front page


Naming places is theorised as an activity in heritage whereby a name will index a people’s narrative and history. In postcolonial societies where the colonised and the colonisers share spaces, individual locations can host different sides of history and different cultural significance. To this end, the New Zealand government has pursued bilingual place-naming policy to reflect the heritage of both Māori as the Indigenous people, and Pākehā as the European colonisers. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative data from an attitudinal survey of New Zealand youth about bilingual place-naming as public policy, this paper places under critical review the theoretical and policy assumption that representing heritage is a core public interest vis-à-vis place names. The paper finds that only a minority of the surveyed youth were concerned about indexing heritage, with the majority instead arguing for and against bilingual place-naming on the basis of Aotearoa New Zealand’s contemporary bicultural identity, perceived linguistic challenges and opportunities associated with bilingualism, and a concern for enforcing Indigenous rights legislation. The paper typologises how these youth argued for and against bilingual place-naming with attention to a diversity of evaluative and epistemological starting points when thinking about place names.

Access the article on the homepage of Journal of Multilingual and Multicultural Development.


Published Aug. 4, 2017 2:14 PM - Last modified Feb. 7, 2020 9:51 AM