- Publish Date
- Monday, 30 October 2017, 1:03PM
After years of neglect and ignorance, Australian television commentators have made it a priority to learn how to correctly pronounce the names of Maori and Pacific Island players throughout the Rugby League World Cup.
With the help of former New Zealand and Samoan dual international Nigel Vagana, Australia's official World Cup broadcaster, the Seven Network, have put their team of match callers and expert commentators through an educational workshop to help them improve their pronunciation of the names of players from Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Papua New Guinea and New Zealand.
The new emphasis comes after league's Maori and Pacific island communities were left seething at the continued indifference to their culture, following a controversial segment on Fox Sports' Matty Johns Show in August, that saw children quizzed on "the funniest name in the NRL".
A wave of public outrage saw Johns and the producers slammed and accused of casual racism.
In the wake of that incident, Vagana has praised the Seven Network for accepting an offer to educate their commentary team.
"We were talking about the time that the Fox stuff blew up with the Matty Johns Show," said Vagana, who works as New Zealand Rugby League's welfare and education manager.
"I said if they want some help I could find some people and advisers to give the commentary team some tips on pronunciation because you're going to have a fair few [Polynesian names] in quick succession if you're going to do three games back-to-back.
"It's awesome and a great acknowledgement from Seven that if they're going to do it, then let's do it as best we can."
This article was first published on nzherald.co.nz and is republished here with permission.