Atawhai from Royal Cam has fledged now, and as we head into the next Royal Cam season, we want to talk about how Atawhai got her beautiful te reo Māori name.
Ko Atawhai tōna ingoa. Her name is Atawhai.
Last month, during te wiki o te reo Māori, Atawhai fledged!
Mā te wā. See you later.
Atawhai has fledged now, so chapter closed, right? Kāo/no.
Royal Cam is a cyclical programme, and adolescents are coming back, new eggs will be laid, and new chicks will hatch.
It also means we’ll run more Name the Chick competitions.
So in advance of that, let’s talk about how Atawhai got her name, and respond to the question we got a lot about why the name was in te reo Māori, and why each previous Royal Cam name has been too.
First, a fast background on Royal Cam.
Since 2016, we’ve had a 24-hour live stream of a Toroa/Northern Royal albatross nest during breeding season at Pukekura/Taiaroa Head.
Every year the camera focuses on a nest, from nesting to fledging, and the chick inevitably steals hearts.
Every chick is special, but Atawhai was our lockdown chick.
Connecting with nature digitally while staying at home in our bubbles was great for the wellbeing of cam viewers, both here and overseas.
The camera on the peninsula (which is currently run in partnership with Cornell Lab of Ornithology) also offers a deeper look at some of the challenges of conservation, including plastic pollution and climate change.
Over the years on camera there have been some ups:
And some downs:
But ultimately the cam is doing what it’s meant to – which is educate viewers about this species, which is a taonga/treasure species for Ngāi Tahu and Aotearoa.
If you’re unfamiliar with ‘taonga species’, it means native birds, plants or animals which are of special cultural significance and importance. It means they are unique treasures to us.
Name the Chick
The annual Name the Chick competition is a way for cam viewers to be part of the chick’s journey.
Ko Atawhai tenei. This is Atawhai.
The past Royal Cam chicks’ names were Karere, Amīria, Tūmanako and Moana.
And now Atawhai too.
There’s been some concerns expressed about clarity on the naming process and questions why a te reo name was always chosen, so let’s go into that a little.
Firstly, we open submissions to the public, then a panel from Te Papa Atawhai/Department of Conservation shortlists the submissions to 20 names based on this judging criteria:
- relevance to the theme Celebrating Connection, the chick, colony or species
- originality and creativity of the name and inspiration
- reflective of the characteristics of the species or their habitat on the peninsula.
Those 20 names go to Te Poāri a Pukekura, the Pukekura Co-management Trust, who vote on their top five names. Te Poāri a Pukekura is a registered charitable trust representing mana whenua (Ōtākou Rūnanga and Korako Karetai Trust), the Dunedin City Council and Department of Conservation. This Co-management Trust oversee management of the reserves on the headland.
The top five then go out to the public for voting.
You can read the full criteria and process on our site.
This year we had 2,500 submissions!
Ka wani kē!/Wow! And more than 3,200 people voted on these submissions.
There were 866 votes for the winning name Atawhai, and 666 votes for the runner-up name, Marama.
For your reading pleasure, here are five other beautiful names Atawhai could have had
Not all of these are the top five chosen by Te Poāri a Pukekura (you probably already know those), instead they’re a random selection from the shortlist.
This means much love, or deep affection in te reo Māori. It’s often used as a sign off between loved ones.
See Māori Dictionary for full definitions and pronunciation help.
This is an Arabic name meaning “One who returns”. This was suggested as a way to celebrate the diversity of Aotearoa. This was submitted more than once, with various options for English spellings.
See عايدة via Almaany Arabic Dictionary.
Which means peace, or harmony in te reo. One submitter said, “observing this brave, resilient little chick, serenely perched on her Dunedin sea cliff over the past six historic months the world has seen, brought me so many moments of peace, and hope that no matter what, nature prevails.”
See Māori Dictionary for more.
Means to support, look out for in te reo. Manākitia is showing respect and caring for others. Special mention to the submitter who suggested this to honour her mokopuna/grandchild, who is named Manaaki. It is a beautiful name.
See Māori Dictionary for more.
Kōtuitui is a verb in te reo which means to interlace and connect. This reflects the connections that viewers have made with nature through the Royal Cam.
See Māori Dictionary for more.
Is it a rule that the name has to be in te reo Māori?
No. But let’s dive into why it usually is a name in te reo.
In 1986 the Waitangi Tribunal recognised te reo Māori itself as a taonga/treasure, and a year later it was made an official language of Aotearoa New Zealand. It’s beautiful to see taonga species recognised with taonga names.
Te reo Māori is a storytelling language, steeped in metaphor and poetry; and Atawhai means kindness and generosity of spirit, which is a particularly apt choice in 2020.
There’s no precise rule that only te reo names can be submitted or will be chosen. And given the international popularity of the cam, there are often names submitted in various languages, including English.
But it’s fitting that the names with the most significance for a taonga native species in Aotearoa have been names in the native language of Aotearoa.
It just makes sense.
Given there were so many name submissions, it was inevitable people would be disappointed if their name wasn’t shortlisted. That’s fair enough.
But as we laid out in the naming criteria above, a name without significance to this taonga species is unlikely to be shortlisted, or even to get many public votes.
That’s why when names like Fluffy or Tom or Bill are submitted, they’re unlikely to make the grade.
Because it’s about significance, and the big picture here in Aotearoa.
Kia kaha te reo Māori
The name Atawhai, and all of the Royal Cam chicks’ names, are gifts. A taonga name for a taonga species.
Now, Atawhai carries her name with her across oceans.
Ā te wā Atawhai. See you at another time, Atwahai.
We look forward to more pīpī/chicks next year.
Māori Dictionary, which also includes pronunciation help: www.maoridictionary.co.nz
The official te wiki o te reo Māori website: www.tewikiotereomaori.co.nz
Royal Cam: www.doc.govt.nz/royalcam