What's in an ingoa?

What's in an ingoa?

In many cultures, the name of a person is always more than just a name! In Māoridom it is no different!

Of course, names sometimes are just names that have no reason other than they are liked! I should know... my parents loved the names Kim and Kelly... but when the dog down the road got named Kelly, my mum wasn't having a bar of me answering to the same name, so Kim I became.

Much like my brother too - Mum heard a song by the Kiwi singer Brendan Dougan on the radio, and the rest is history!

So where am I going with all of this? I raise this conversation, because straight up - when I started telling people the name of my pakihi (business), people didn't get the mix of kupu Māori and English.

Thing is, when it comes to names - I happen to put a lot of thought into it. Call it the 'Māori' in me!


The proof is in the pudding - naming my son.

When it came to naming my own son Rākau, I went down many roads. When we found out we were having a little boy though, nostalgically, I wanted to call him Valen Tai Mark O'Reilly Nugent-Langslow.

'Valen' to honour my father that I lost at the age of five: Valentine O'Reilly Nugent;

'Tai' as a namesake to my brother: Brendan Tai O'Reilly Nugent;

'Mark' to honour his fathers brother who was tragically lost when he was just a teenager: Mark Charles Langslow; and

'O'Reilly Nugent' to hold on to the family ties of my name - after all, why should I give my name up?!

To me, it got the obligatory Māori name in there whilst also honouring both whanau lines! However, Rā's dad said something to me that really resonated. "I want our son to live a life that is his. To create his own identity."

"Whoa", I thought. That honestly hit me like a tonne of bricks. As much as whakapapa is intrinsically ingrained in me, I also realised my son didn't have to carry the names of these people to carry their mana - and so Rākau Haze Nugent-Langslow it was.

Don't get it twisted though... I still thought deeply when it came to this name choice!

To put the first name in context, can I preface by saying that daddy is an 80's hard, old skool hip hop, skateboarding, graffiti loving guy of Scottish and Burmese descent - and he loved the name Rah (I suspect from rapper/MC Rakim). When we were looking up names that had 'Rah' in it, they mostly stemmed from Middle Eastern, Indian or African origin. Nothing wrong with that - but it wasn't hard for me to pitch a Māori name given we have a lot of words beginning with 'Ra' in my own culture too!

Rākau of course was chosen to honour my deep connection to rongoā rākau (plant healing) and Tane Mahuta (god of the forest) as it translates to tree or plant.  It also can be used for the spar or mast of a boat - this had strong meaning for me as my father was at one with Tangaroa (god of the sea) and lost his life to him too.  Rākau can also mean a weapon or challenge stick - and as Rākau was a hard fought for bubba through the process of IVF, well that made sense too! Often his name is shortened to Rā - and he definitely is our little son god, Tama-nui-te-rā.

Haze was another reference to our weather or Tawhirimatea (god of the weather) and the environment. Representing Hine-pūkohu-rangi, the maiden of mist, but also the tag name for a graffiti artist that his dad admires quite fiercely! His dad is also a well known graffiti artist going by the alias 'Dews.' In Māori this is known as haukū representing the tears of Ranginui, mourning his separation from Papatūānuku - so there was some duality there between haze and dew. 

Between all of these names collectively, we acknowledge Pāpatuanuku, Tane Mahuta, Tama-nui-te-rā, Tangaroa, Tawhirimatea, Hine-pūkohu-rangi and Ranginui.

Heck! What a name right?! Don't even get me started on his astrology and numbers!


You best believe MindKai is no simple name!

Well as you can imagine, the name of my pakihi didn't come without some serious thought too (despite the naysayers)!


When it came to the word MIND, this was all about having MINDfullness, acknowledging the need to look after the MIND, as well as being conscious of taha hinengaro - mental wellness, or the health of the MIND. This was important to me because it is all of these thoughts that led to me starting MindKai. I wanted to help with the parts of our health that are often most neglected but are intrinsically important parts of self care and our hauora (whole health).


Well this word is te reo Māori and literally translates to one of my most favourite things in the world - food!  In the context of MindKai, it is referring to MIND food, or food for thoughts.

From the kupu KAI comes the words:
Ai - to show habitual action... always, regularly, usually. MindKai is all about a daily routine of selfcare.
Ia - each, every. MindKai is intended for everyone who can relate to its kaupapa (approach) regardless of cultural identity.
Ia - current, flow, cadence, beat, rhythm. MindKai is recognising your mauri, life force and our flow in life.
Ka - to indicate the start of a new action or state. Using MindKai is like a tool in the kete to begin a journey of a more self aware you.
- to lock, be locked, key. Using MindKai may be a step towards recognising what may be locked for you within your hauora (wellness) - whether mind, body, spirit or whanau (family) influences.
- to say, speak, express. MindKai has a key call to action to express how you feel so we can break the stigma around mental illness. When we lock things in, we can not heal - unlocking means speaking our truth.
- to be full. I hope when you use MindKai, you will be full. Fulfilled. Full of hope. Full of intention.


Together, MIND and KAI, creates MindKai. The duality of both pākēha (English) and te reo Māori not only represent all of the above, but both languages of which I whakapapa to. The coming together of two worlds. Two cultures. Who I am.

Perhaps, it is even a representation of that partnership that Te Tiriti o Waitangi talks to. So yes, the name is a little colonised - but I like to look at it more as a representation of hope of achieving kotahitanga (oneness). After all, we can't erase our history, but we can build a better tomorrow off of it. 

Ko te pae tawhiti, whāia kia tata; ko te pae tata, whakamaua kia tina! Pursue the distant horizon until it is nearer; pursue the near horizon and grasp it tight! The potential for tomorrow, depends on what we do today.

So, what is in a ingoa? Quite a lot actually!

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