Linguistic Hacks on Tour, episode 1: New Zealand!

The worldwide sport of linguo-hackery and quackery made it into the news last month, as an Englishman tried to cause an international incident, and more importantly gain attention, by lecturing these Kiwis on quite how bad their English is!

A district council added a macron to its place name, “Kapiti”, changing it to “Kāpiti” to reflect Māori spelling.   They’re paying $7,000-10,000 to replace their old 
Kapiti Coast welcome signs.

But the cost isn't what annoyed Martin Warriner!  The Dominion Post reports:
“Last year Paraparaumu resident Martin Warriner forced the council to back down over its use of macrons in ‘Kapiti’ in legal documents, including his personalised rates invoice.”
Yes!  Never mind the expensive signs that will bring the tourists who park in my driveway.  I can tolerate that, but, when I receive a letter containing a hideous macron, I throw it in the bin!

This year, however, Mr Warriner is back,
Truss-like, to prove to us that his unimportant grammatical gripe really is very important!  His arguments – which took a year to think up, remember – are as follows:
1) Kāpiti means “cabbage”.
2) The New Zealand Geographic Board supports him (tacitly) by naming the island off the Kāpiti coast “Kapiti Island” without this silly macron business. Incidentally, the NZGB’s Māori name is Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa.  Yeah, there’s a macron in there. Must be a typo.
3) This is New Zealand, not “Maoriland”. [Edit: I found a 2010 article where Warriner expands on this, hilariously and worryingly: "At the end of the day, this is New Zealand it's not Maoriland. I didn't come to Maoriland, I came to New Zealand. I speak the New Zealand language, I'm a citizen of New Zealand."]
4) The Dominion Post’s computers can’t manage macrons, so maybe they support him too.

I mean, he actually said “Maoriland”?!  I’m not very clued-up on Kiwi cultural sensitivity, but that doesn’t sound good.  Like if you said “
Gipsy Hill?? But this is England, not Gypsyland” – it’s almost threatening.  And a stupid thing to say, since Māori is an official language of New Zealand.
But I believe I have a defence that Mr Warriner can (and should) use!  We Brits, you see, are very sensitive about our cultural heritage and the use of foreignisms, especially
Americanisms, as the Queen’s English Society demonstrated in a rather insensitive manner.  So when a Briton journeys to another English-speaking land, and sees the encroachment of foreign words and correct diacritic marks, it is his duty to rally against them without reading up on history!  Macrons may be “correct” in Māori, but this simply means that they are incorrect in good Proper English, the world’s best language.

As for the cabbage issue: yes,
in the Māori dictionary kāpiti does mean cabbage; Warriner’s research was exemplary.  Unfortunately he decided to tell a joke:
“Kapiti Coasters should stand up and say they are not from the ‘Cabbage’ coast even if our councillors are acting like cabbages.” [1]
Good one.  In any case, a place name having a double meaning is irrelevant.  If 
Kāpiti was called Kapiti sans macron, its name would translate as cleft, crevice, gorge, radius, fibula or calf bone, which isnt much better or funnier.  And, considering the number of places with amusing names in English-speaking countries, we can’t crow about how silly these Māori names are.

This news story was ignored by other (inferior) language blogs, but it had a special resonance
[Ey Frenchy, use a word I would use! – Ed]
it had a special meaning for me, because I’m about to go to New Zealand. The bold Mr Warriner has shown me the response that I’ll get if I start mouthing off (example: “Having heard Mr Warriner today on the radio, all I can say is that the gentleman has obviously migrated to the wrong country. ‘Maoriland’?! WTF??? He's either a Class A1 racist, or has rocks in his head.”, Frank, comment no 62)
Well I never!  We Poms didn’t colonise you so we could be attacked in writing by whinging Kiwis.  And they even have different levels of racist, do they? Well, that’s very sad.

For showing me all this, I thank this brave bloke, and would like to invite him to become a member of the PEF!  But he probably wouldn
t be pernickity enough for us.