The Maori party has launched a petition to officially change New Zealand’s name to Aotearoa, which means “land of the long white cloud”.
The party writes that in a statement where The Guardian about the message. “It’s time for the name to do justice to this country’s first and official language, we are a Polynesian island.”
Also the Cook Islands, 3000 kilometers northeast of New Zealand, want to get rid of their name. The archipelago owes its name to the British explorer James Cook.
New Zealand takes its name from the province of Zeeland because the Dutchman Abel Tasman was the first European explorer to discover the country in 1642.
“This must change”
The Maori party wants the country’s government to nominate not only New Zealand, but all Maori towns and villages by 2026. “This is the 21st century, that must change,” the party writes.
There has been a debate in New Zealand over the name of the country for several years now. More and more companies and politicians are using Aotearoa, but it is not the official name of the country. Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that a name change was not something her government had considered.
“I’m hearing more and more about Aotearoa being used interchangeably with New Zealand and it’s positive,” she said. “Whether we turn it into law or not, I don’t think it changes the fact that New Zealanders are increasingly saying Aotearoa.”
In the 1980s, there was a discussion in New Zealand about the use of Maori, which until then was not the official language. When an operator was fired in 1984 for recording ‘Kia Ora’, the Maori greeting, it caused a stir. In 1987, Maori became an official language of the country.
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