Womenz Magazine

Mum of girl, 5, who had name shortened by nursery says her ‘identity is everything’

A furious mum who spoke out after her daughter’s nursery shortened her name said she will continue to stop people ‘taking her child’s identity away’.

Paris Tautu made headline news around the world when she slammed the day care centre for shortening Mahinarangi’s name to ‘Rangi’ after they deemed it was ‘too hard to pronounce’.

The horrified parent, who lives in New Zealand, is a Māori and Mahinarangi’s traditional name, which means ‘moon in the sky’, has been passed down through several generations and has a deep line of descent.

After discovering her daughter was being called Rangi she also learnt children were laughing at her traditional name which left Mahinarangi so distraught she stopped trying to correct people when they said it wrong.

Speaking to the Mirror exclusively, Paris said she has now taken the five-year-old out of the nursery and found a different one where they are happy to call Mahinarangi by her full name.

“I couldn’t just stand back and watch my daughter’s spirit being crushed and her feelings hurt,” she said.

“I would fight the world to defend her and to be honest this has been a blessing in disguise.

“I thought that putting Mahinarangi into a private and expensive nursery meant we would receive the best care but what has happened shows we were wrong.

“Her old nursery was $10.50 an hour but this new daycare is free and putting her into a community-based centre was the best thing for my daughter and our whanau (family).

“They were extremely respectful and encouraged my daughter to gain the confidence she hadn’t had at her previous nursery.

“Her new nursery has taught her so much about her culture and history and I am just so grateful to them.”

Paris said her daughter’s name is from the Ngāti Raukawa heritage, known as whakapapa, which often shows where someone is from so to not use it in full can be seen as disrespectful.

Paris’ ancestors endured similar experiences which made her even more determined to make sure Mahinarangi’s name is pronounced correctly and not changed.

She said: “My child’s identity is not a small issue, its everything. We need to make it normal that people don’t change your name for their own convenience.

“Some people say it’s a small issue, most of those people are just small-minded.

“Your child is an individual, you named your child for a reason so parents should never let other’s take their sense of identity from them.

“Never let people make your child feel embarrassed or ashamed of their name because people don’t want to make a decent effort.

“You are your child’s advocate so put people in their place.

“Every single child deserves respect and asking to be called by your name is never asking too much.”

Since Paris brought the issue to light she said she has been stopped by strangers who have thanked her for her stance and has received messages of support from around the world.

She said she will save all the messages and news articles and put them in scrapbook so Mahinarangi can see how important her name is.

“I want my daughter to see the importance of standing up for what you believe in,” she said.

“The amount of stories I have been sent of others living the same struggle has blown my mind.

“I just hope every person that reads about this gains the confidence to reclaim their name and correct others who shorten it for their own convenience.”

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