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Issue #1589      April 17, 2013

Original place names embraced in Tassie

A new official dual naming policy to call Tasmanian places by both their original Aboriginal name and introduced English names appears to have been embraced, but the actions of one developer have annoyed local Aboriginal people.

Mt Wellington (kunanyi).

Under the policy, introduced names will be phased out in favour of palawa kani (Aboriginal language) names as and when they are absorbed into the wider consciousness – much the way that “Ayers Rock” has largely reverted to “Uluru”.

Within days of the announcement at Hobart’s most prominent geographical feature, Mt Wellington (kunanyi) several weeks ago, non-Aboriginal developer Adrian Bold – who is pushing for a cable car on the 1,271-metre high mountain – registered the domain name kunanyi.org and several variations and linked them to his proposal’s website.

There’s been vocal opposition, official and community, for and against Mr Bold’s cable car proposal, including from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC).

The developer hoped his actions would secure a meeting with the TAC, saying he would gift the domain names to the TAC if they wished in “due course”.

Mr Bold told the Koori Mail it would be “preferable” to get the Aboriginal community on side, especially to get his proposed interpretation centre up and running.

“We’re trying to change to the Wellington Park Trust Management Plan, that prohibits transport infrastructure,” he said, referring to the other structures on the mountain as “rubbish”.

The plan is currently under review.

While Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Cassy O’Connor has labelled the domain registering disrespectful, TAC CEO Heather Sculthorpe called it a fantastic bonus.

“It’s fantastic publicity for us,” Ms Sculthorpe said.

“Him ripping us off, to get on page one (of the local newspaper), when the actual launch of the policy only made it to page three, it’s a fantastic bonus, spreading the word that kunanyi will be the new name of Mt Wellington,” Ms Sculthorpe said.

“We think it is an attention grabbing exercise.”

Ms Sculthorpe said people had been saying they could challenge his domain registrations but she dismissed those suggestions as a waste of effort.

“He’s also just trying to get attention to himself by causing an argument with us,” she said of Mr Bold.

“After he done that, he sent us an email and rang.

“There’s no point, we are opposed to the cable car, it’s not his mountain and any interpretation of the mountain will be done by the Aboriginal community not by a cable car proponent.

“We’ve already got palawa kani written on the mountain on interpretation panels. He doesn’t own the mountain, there’s nothing he can do for us by way of interpretation or giving us a domain name we don’t want. It’s quite funny.”

Palawa kani, the language revival program for Tasmanian Aboriginal languages, began in the early 1990s.

Aborigines who survived the attempted genocide, were sent to concentration camps, taught white man’s ways and English. Ms Sculthorpe said it was at these camps in the 1850s that the languages from different groups that were bought together started to evolve into a composite language, like in other places in Australia.

It has been a “sleeping language” in many respects until recently.

For the past two decades, it has been meticulously researched, taught in the Aboriginal community, songs written and welcomes to country spoken proudly in palawa kani, many words are used by Aboriginal people in every day conversation.

Where possible, words are from the North East language group, where most of Tasmania’s Aborigines descend, where this is not always possible words from other language groups in Tasmania are used.

Research has been extensive with Aboriginal people studying linguistics to obtain the correct pronunciations of word lists recorded by people from England, Germany, Holland, Scotland and France, using their many dialects.

Other words never left the vocabulary of Tasmanian Aboriginal families.

Koori Mail  

Next article – Volgren victory travelling north

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