Australia

Will Hobart take on an Indigenous name?

The Tasmania state capital of Hobart from Mt Nelson. Source: AAP

Hobart will be able to adopt an Indigenous name as well as its current one.

Members of Tasmania’s Indigenous community have urged Hobart to adopt a dual-Indigenous name as an act of reconciliation.

The Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre (TAC) offered Hobart City Council to take on the city’s traditional name nipaluna (pronounced nip-ah-LOO-nuh) at a presentation on Wednesday as part of Reconciliation Week.

The name comes from the revived Aboriginal language palawa kani.

“It will give a lot of pride to the Aboriginal community so they don’t always have to look at white colonial statues and English here,” TAC CEO Heather Sculthorpe told SBS News.

“Acknowledging Aboriginal people were here first can only be a good thing.”

Ms Sculthorpe said the announcement has been well-received and it was a “concrete” step towards reconciliation.

She said the search for the city's original name was part of a 30-year-long research project.

The name was first used in January 1831 when Aboriginal leader Wooreddy shared it with missionary George Augustus Robinson.

She said the Indigenous community would be “overwhelming joyful and proud” should the Hobart City Council choose to adopt the name.

Hobart Lord Mayor Ron Christie told SBS News he welcomed the name offering. 

“We will certainly embrace it. I will use the name Nipaluna in all my speeches.”

The dual name will now be presented to the council for approval at a meeting next Monday and could be formally adopted within weeks.

“We have a small community but a compassionate community that will embrace this," Mr Christie said. 

“We may be the smallest capital but we lead the nation with many things like this.”

Country-wide push for Indigenous names 

Brisbane is also in the midst of a naming debate.

Ten proposals are currently before the Queensland Department of Natural Resources to reinstate the city's traditional name of Miguntyun.

Elsewhere, a push to rename the Victorian federal seat of Batman to Wonga was reportedly quashed on Wednesday by the Australian Electoral Commission.

Labor, The Greens, Darebin Council and Aboriginal leaders proposed changing the name to celebrate a Wurundjeri tribe leader rather than Melbourne founder John Batman, who they claim was involved in the killing of Tasmanian Aboriginals in the 19th century.

The AEC rejected the proposal as it did "not consider that strong enough reasons" had been provided for the name change, News Corp Australia reported. 

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