Historian Marjolein van Pagee argues in favor of replacing the colonial name New Zealand with the original Maori name Aotearoa (11/8). The name New Zealand can certainly be traced back to European colonization; However, Māori traditionally did not refer to the territory of the current state as Aotearoa. That state is a colonial construct, and the question is whether the current Maori population would want to leave New Zealand as a unitary state. Incidentally, if the unpleasantness of the colonial background is the criterion, few countries on earth would retain their present name. New Zealand’s neighbors Australia, Indonesia (the name is no less Euro-colonial than the vengeful Dutch East Indies!) and the Philippines, for example, should be renamed; It is not clear what the name is because these states also have no pre-colonial predecessors. And we’re not even talking about countries in North, Central and South America. Even the names of the American continents are European-colonial (16th century), like Asia, Africa (classical antiquity) and – more recently – Antarctica.
Lead the way
A version of this article appeared in the August 16, 2022 issue of the newspaper
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