A political party in New Zealand launched a petition on Tuesday to officially change the country’s name to Aotearoa, the current Maori name in the country.
Often translated as “Land of the Long White Cloud,” Aotearoa has a controversial history and it is believed that the name was originally used only for the North Island, not for the country as a whole.
The Te Pati Maori party wants to replace all city and place names with indigenous Maori names by 2026. It is time for Te Reo Maori (Aboriginal New Zealand and one of New Zealand’s three official languages, ed.) to regain its rightful place as the first and official language of this country. We are a Polynesian state, we are Aotearoa, it seems. We are sick and tired of spoiling and ignoring our grandparents’ names. This has to change.
Many New Zealand businesses and government agencies already use the Aotearoa name, including on citizens’ passports. Te Rio Maori became an official language of the country in July 1987.
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that changing the official name was “not something we were thinking about” but she supported more people using the name. “I’m hearing more and more about using Aotearoa interchangeably with New Zealand and that’s positive,” she said.
“Whether we change it into a law or not, I don’t think it will change the fact that New Zealanders will increasingly use Aotearoa. Our goal is for 1 million New Zealanders to speak a Māori language by 2040, so it is a welcome change.”
“Lifelong food practitioner. Zombie geek. Explorer. Reader. Subtly charming gamer. Entrepreneur. Devoted analyst.”