NZ Māori party launches petition to change the country's name

NZ Māori party launches petition to change the country's name


How New Zealand could change its NAME after Māori Party said it is ‘sick to death’ of the European title – but former deputy PM brands it ‘left-wing radical bull dust’

  • The Māori Party has launched a petition to change New Zealand to ‘Aotearoa’ 
  • Leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer launched petition on Tuesday
  • Petition calls on Govt to ‘identify & officially restore’ place names across nation
  • Mr Waititi said the petition has already gathered 12,000 signatures 

New Zealand could have its name changed to Aotearoa if signatories of a controversial petition have their way.

Te Pāti Māori, the nation’s Māori Party, launched the campaign on Tuesday asking for Indigenous names to be restored for the country and including towns, suburbs and cities. 

The petition calls on the government to ‘identify and officially restore’ the original Te Reo Māori – Indigenous place names, over the next five years in a process to be completed by 2026.

‘It’s well past time that Te Reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country,’ Māori Party leaders, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said in a statement launching the petition.

Leaders of the Māori Party Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer (pictured) have launched a petition to restore New Zealand’s place name to ‘Aotearoa’

‘We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa.’ 

The petition urged the New Zealand government to do all that it can to ‘restore the status of our language’.  

‘Tangata whenua are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored. It’s the 21st Century, this must change,’ it read.

Mr Waititi and Ms Ngarewa-Packer said fluency rates for the Indigenous language have fallen from 90 per cent to 20 per cent in the last 90 years.

Mr Waititi (pictured) said the petition has already gathered 12,000 signatures since launching on Tuesday

‘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,’ it added. 

The name change was initially raised by the Māori Party in 2017 which launched its language policy calling for state broadcasters to have basic Te Reo Māori fluency.

Aotearoa is used interchangeably across the country with the terminology used by state officials, political leaders and even some companies – but there has been no official change. 

Former New Zealand Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters slammed the name change as ‘left-wing radical bull dust’ on Twitter (pictured)

Former NZ Deputy Prime Minister and Leader of New Zealand first Winston Peters has already rebuked the name change as ‘dumb extremism’.

‘This is just more left-wing radical bull dust. Changing our country’s name and town and city names is just dumb extremism,’ Mr Peters wrote on Twitter. 

‘We are not changing to some name with no historical credibility. We are for keeping us New Zealand.’

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said in September last year an official name change for the nation was ‘not something we’ve explored’ but encouraged the use of Aotearoa as a ‘positive thing.’ 

‘It’s not something that we’ve explored but I am really encouraged to continue to see people use it more frequently and I hope to see it used more internationally as well,’ she said.

As of Tuesday evening Mr Waititi announced the petition has already gather 12,000 signatures from supporters. 

The campaign comes 49 years after the Māori language petition was first handed to parliament in a push that eventually lead to Māori recognised as an official dialect.

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