It has been almost exactly two months since I organised the first English rakugo club meeting.
We now have five core members along with some one-off participants here and there, and we have even been offered a free venue! It has been growing much faster than I had expected before taking that dreadful first step.
We decided it was about time to choose our rakugo family name (teigou/ yagou) to nurture a sense of belonging.
We really wanted something very New Zealand, a name that would sound Japanese yet reflect the essence of this country.
Luckily, the Japanese language shares the identical vowels and most consonants with Māori, so we decided to find a Māori word to inspire us.
The most obvious word was Aotearoa, the Māori name of New Zealand, which means “the land of the long white cloud”. We considered “Aotearoya” to make it sound more like a rakugo family name, but it was a bit mouthful and didn’t quite flow.
Then, we decided to explore the origin of the name “Aotearoa”.
It is said that when the first Māori explorer Kupe discovered New Zealand, his wife said,
“He ao, he ao! He aotea! He aotearoa!”
“A cloud, a cloud! A white cloud! A long white cloud!”
“Aotea” is a beautiful word!
I checked the Māori dictionary and found that it also meant a kind of greenstone. One of their ancestral canoes (waka) was also called “Aotea”.
It was a perfect word for our family name.
However, as it lacks respect to use such a precious word without their permission, we decided to get an inspiration from the word but turn it into a different word.
our name was finally chosen.
Announcing our rakugo family name…
Here are the names of our performers who have already chosen their names:
This is just the beginning! We will rock Auckland, New Zealand, and beyond!!!