The New Zealand Indigenous Party – the so-called Māori – set itself a military objective. The The party has a petition It began renaming the official name of New Zealand from New Zealand to Aotearoa. Aotearoa is the country’s original name, which means something like “Land of the Long White Cloud”. It is already widely used in New Zealand, but has not yet been officially approved.
According to the Māori party co-chairs, Rwiri Waititi and Debi Ngariwa Packer, the official name change would “unify” the country. Waititi and Ngarwa Packer said in a press release regarding the petition that it is long past time to restore the indigenous Te Rio Maori language to its “rightful place” as the country’s first and official language. “We are a Polynesian state – we are Aotearoa.” New Zealand, on the other hand, is a Dutch name. “Even the Dutch changed their name – from Holland to Holland,” the indigenous politicians emphasized.
City names should change too
The petition also calls on the government to identify the original names of cities and towns over the next five years and to formally re-establish them. Indigenous people wrote in the petition that they were tired of their ancestral names being “distorted, falsified and ignored”. “It’s the 21st century, and that has to change.”
According to the indigenous petition, New Zealand’s largest city will be called Auckland, and Wellington will rename itself Te Wanganui a Tara, Christchurch to Tautahi, and Dunedin to Tibuti. Other places, on the other hand, already have original names and do not need to be renamed. These include the Taupo, Paekakariki, and Hokitika.
Doubt the historical credibility
Although the term Aotearoa is already widely used in New Zealand, the petition has not been accepted by all parties. Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters described the idea on Twitter as “left-wing folly”. “Changing the name of our country as well as the name of the place and city is just stupid extremism,” wrote the head of the right-wing New Zealand First party. “We are not changing our name to a name that has no historical credibility,” he wrote on Twitter.
In fact, according to a researcher from the University of Auckland, the name Aotearoa was originally used only for the North Island of New Zealand. “It has never included New Zealand’s South Island,” Dan Hikoroa said in an interview with the New Zealand medium Stuff last year.
Aotearoa – widely used in the country
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quoted last year as saying that the official name change is not something she wants to pursue at the moment. But you support if people want to use the name a lot. “I hear more and more that Aotearoa is used synonymously with New Zealand, and that’s a positive thing,” she is quoted by the New Zealand Herald as saying. “Whether we change the law or not, I don’t think it changes the fact that New Zealanders are increasingly referring to Aotearoa.”
The aboriginal Te reo Māori has been one of the official languages of New Zealand since July 1987. Since then, various place names have already been renamed. For example, Wellington City Council voted in March 2020 to rename Warbury Street to Tee Warbury Street, giving the street the name of a 19th century Maori leader.
Te reo Maori is popular and appreciated in New Zealand. From 2025, for example, all schools in New Zealand must also teach Maori. In addition, language plays an increasingly important role in government agencies, the private sector, universities, and television and radio programs. Change in society is driven at least by Ardern. The politician also learns the language and uses it over and over again. After the birth of her daughter, she also confirmed in an interview that she should grow up bilingual as well. In addition, Ardern gave it a middle name from the Maori language. In addition to Neve, she has named her daughter Te Aroha, which is supposed to symbolize love in the original language.
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