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Māori Party Launches Official Bid To Change The Name Of New Zealand

Māori Party Launches Official Bid To Change The Name Of New Zealand

The party's leaders believe it would 'unify our country rather than divide it​'.

Stewart Perrie

Stewart Perrie

The Māori Party (Te Pāti Māori) has launched an official bid to change the name of New Zealand.

The political faction wants the country to be called Aotearoa, which was the Māori word for the landmass after European settlers colonised it. Nu Tirani has also been used for the country.

Before colonisation, the indigenous people didn't have a single, collective word for the whole New Zealand archipelago.

Dutch cartographers coined the name New Zealand in the 17th century, according to News Corp, as it referred to the province of Zeeland in the Netherlands.

There's no official translation for Aotearoa, however one interpretation in English is 'the land of the long white cloud'.

The Māori Party went into last year's federal election with a mandate to officially change the country's name within five years if they won power.

Jacinda Ardern's Labour Party eventually won in a landslide, however the Māori Party ended up securing two seats out of 120 MPs.

They've launched a campaign on their website, which says: "This petition calls on Parliament to change New Zealand to Aotearoa and begin a process, alongside whānau (extended family), hapū (the basic political unit within Māori society) and iwi (tribe), local government and the New Zealand Geographic Board to identify and officially restore the original Te Reo Māori (Māori language) names for all towns, cities and places right across the country by 2026."

"Tangata whenua (people of the land) are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored.

"It's the 21st Century, this must change.

"It is the duty of the Crown to do all that it can to restore the status of our language. That means it needs to be accessible in the most obvious of places; on our televisions, on our radio stations, on road signs, maps and official advertising, and in our education system."

The political party has been disheartened to see the Māori language fall dramatically in the country's education system and they want the kids of tomorrow to be bilingual.

Party leader Rawiri Waititi explained how changing the name of the country would 'unify our country rather than divide it'.

He's hoping to see city names also changed, with Wellington becoming Te Whanganiu-a-Tara, Christchurch would be Ōtautahi and Auckland would be altered to Tāmaki Makaurau.

While there will be plenty of support for the mission, it doesn't look like it has the support of the former Deputy Prime Minister.

Despite Winston Peters having Māori heritage, he reckons the petitions amounts to 'dumb extremism' and said it was 'just more left-wing radical bull dust'.

Featured Image Credit: PA

Topics: New Zealand, News