This is what New Zealand will be called in the future. The Maori party also wants to replace English place names with indigenous ones. That goes too far for some
The Maori party has set itself a militant goal. The New Zealand Native American Party has launched a petition to change the official name of New Zealand from “New Zealand” to “Aotearoa”. Aotearoa is the indigenous name of the country and means “land of the long white cloud”. It is already widely used in New Zealand, but has not yet been officially approved.
“Falsified and ignored”
According to Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer of the Maori Party, an official name change would “unite” the country. It is long overdue for the indigenous Te Reo Maori language to regain its “rightful place” as the country’s first and official language, said Waititi and Ngarewa-Packer in a press release on the petition. “We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa.” New Zealand, on the other hand, is a Dutch name. “Even the Dutch have changed their name – from Holland to the Netherlands,” emphasized the indigenous politicians.
The petition also calls on the government to identify the original indigenous names of cities and towns over the next five years and to re-establish them officially. They were fed up with the names of their ancestors being “mutilated, adulterated and ignored,” the Maori wrote in the petition. “It’s the 21st century, that has to change.” If the indigenous people have their way: Inside, New Zealand’s largest city, Auckland, would in future be called Tamaki-makau-rough, while the capital Wellington would be renamed Te Whanganui-a-Tara, Christchurch to Tautahi and Dunedin to Tepoti. Other places, on the other hand, already have indigenous names such as Taupo, Paekakariki and Hokitika.
Although the term Aotearoa is already widely used in New Zealand, the petition has met with resistance: New Zealand’s former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters described the idea on Twitter as “left-wing crap”. “The name change of our country as well as that of the place and city names is just stupid extremism,” wrote the chairman of the right-wing New Zealand First Party. “We’re not changing our name to one with no historical credibility,” he tweeted.
In fact, according to a researcher from the University of Auckland, the name Aotearoa was originally only used for the North Island of New Zealand. He “never included the South Island of New Zealand,” Dan Hikuroa told New Zealand medium Stuff last year.
New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was quoted as saying in 2020 that an official name change is currently not something she wants to pursue. But you support if people wanted to use the name more often. Ardern told the New Zealand Herald, “Whether we change the law or not, I don’t think it changes the fact that New Zealanders are increasingly referring to Aotearoa.”
“Left radical crap”
The indigenous language of the indigenous people – Te reo Maori – has been one of the official languages of New Zealand since July 1987 and is widely popular and valued. From 2025 on, all schools in New Zealand should also teach Maori. In addition, language is playing an increasingly important role in government agencies and in the private sector, at universities, on television shows and on the radio.
Jacinda Ardern is also learning the language and using it again and again. After the birth of her daughter, she emphasized in an interview that she should also grow up bilingual. In addition, Ardern gave her a middle name from the Maori language. In addition to Neve, she named her daughter Te Aroha, which is supposed to symbolize love in the indigenous language.