Breakfast's Jenny-May Clarkson gets emotional over her father not giving his kids Māori names due to racism

Publish Date
Monday, 8 June 2020, 12:35PM

Breakfast's presenter Jenny-May Clarkson got emotional this morning over the pain she felt when her father told her that he hadn't given his kids Māori names due to the racism he experienced over his own name. 

She told the story this morning on the show after an interview with US author Clint Smith who recently wrote about how black parents can explain the Black Lives Matter movement to their children. 

During the interview Smith spoke about how his father had pulled him inside after he was playing outside with a water pistol, telling him that the implications of black children doing that - and the risks - were different to other races.

Clarkson spoke about how her own father, Waka, had refused to give his children Māori names. 

"It took me back to my father, and him naming all of us - he refused to name any of us Māori because of how his name was said, was used, was made fun of as he was growing up," she said.

"We've all got Māori names, but as middle names, and for me as a mother, and seeing that pain, I refuse not to name my children Māori names.

"That is their birthright and this is part of the revolution I guess."

Her twin boys called Atawhai and Te Manahau.

"They have their names and they will feel strong about their names because they know where they come from and they can explain that to people," Jenny-May said.

"We're all part of the revolution - the conversations that we have here in New Zealand with our children - how we discuss things like race - we're all part of that conversation.

"It's not a brown thing, it's not a white thing - it's all of us, and we can all make a difference."