New Zealand’s Maori Party Petitions To Change The Country’s Name To Aotearoa

The indigenous Maori party in New Zealand is calling on the government to change the country’s name to Aotearoa. 

They also demand the restoration of “the original Te Reo Maori names for all towns, cities” by the year 2026.

The left-wing party started a petition on their webpage to officially change New Zealand’s name to  Aotearoa, which they have demanded for a long time.

In the Te Reo Maori language, the word translates to “land of the long white cloud” and is often used as a name for the Pacific islanders.

“It’s well past time that Te Reo Maori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country. We are a Polynesian country, we are Aotearoa,” said Rawiri Waititi, one of the leaders of the party.

“Tangata Whenua [indigenous people] are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardized, and ignored. It’s the 21st Century, this must change.

As the indigenous people represent 16.5% of New Zealand’s population, their language, Te Reo Maori, also became an official language in the country in 1987 alongside English.

Maori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer. Image: Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images

The opposition

However, the name Aotearoa is said to have a questionable history and is also believed to have been used to only refer to the North Island, and not the whole country.

New Zealand’s ex-deputy Prime Minister and leader of the New Zealand First party, Winston Peters, slammed the Maori party’s demands as “left-wing radical bulldust.”

“Changing our country’s name and town and city names is just dumb extremism.”

“We are not changing to some name with no historical credibility. We are for keeping us New Zealand,” he said in a social media post.

In 2020, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern expressed her support for the name change proposal.

“I hear more and more often the use of Aotearoa interchangeable with New Zealand and that is a positive thing,” she as per the New Zealand Herald.

The name New Zealand originates from the colonial era when Dutch cartographers named it after the westernmost province Zeeland.

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