the language of protest

October 30, 2009 § Leave a comment

The excerpt below from the Dominion Post, 23 October, 2009 contains a new blend.

Wellington police and council officials are bracing for the arrival of a national motorcycle protest, in response to ACC Minister Nick Smith’s refusal to speak to bikers.

Up to 3000 motorcyclists are expected to roll into the capital on November 17 for a “bikoi” over proposed rises in ACC levies.

The protest’s Wellington co-ordinator, Brent Hutchison, said the levy rise – up to $500 per bike – was a “manifest injustice”. Bikers were easy targets because they had a false reputation. “We pay ACC levies through the nose. It’s time for them to back off and realise we are contributing, law-abiding, tax-paying members of society.”

Bikoi is  a blend of bike and hiikoi – so a nice mix of Maaori and English. Hikoi  was originally a Maaori verb about movement on foot, ranging over English meanings, ‘walk, step, hike’. Dame Whina Cooper’s protest march down the country has seen its dominant meaning shift to ‘march in protest’. Since   pre-“Dame” Whina led the 1975 hikoi from the Far North to Parliament to highlight ongoing Maaori land grievances, New Zealand has witnessed a number of hikoi ( I still feel uncomfortable pluralising the borrowing). In 1998 a ‘hikoi of hope’ converged on parliament to highlight growing concerns regarding social equality and justice in New Zealand.  By this time the concept of a hikoi  had become embedded in the culture – so much so that it had entered the New Zealand English lexicon, allowing it to be used  here in a protest beyond issues of Maaori autonomy. The foreshore and seabed issue in 2004 inspired another march upon Wellington. This year a hikoi protested the proposed reorganisation of Auckland into a super city. What is interesting about this blend is its bilingual fusion. It is not clear to me how <i> is to be pronounced. Is it the <i> of hikoi or  it is the diphthong in bike? My first instinct  is to analyse the blend as b+ikoi, still with short front vowel of  hikoi,  rather than the diphthong.

Spreading its fame, far and wide, hikoi, has made it into the urban dictionary, with this extremely dubious definition and example:

To protest democracy and endorse racial favouratism by driving slowly down the centre of the motorway waving flags and shouting for your rights as a minority to be heard and enforced to the detriment of all other peoples sharing your country.

“I’m going to that Hikoi downtown to piss off some Pakehas”


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