The Māori Party has launched a petition or campaign to change New Zealand’s official name to Aotearoa, the Te Reo Māori, an indigenous language name for the country and quickly signed by a large number of Kiwis.
Te Pāti Māori – the country’s Māori Party – launched the campaign to correspond with Māori Language Week. By Tuesday afternoon, the petition had acquired than 10,000 signatures.
The Māori party — Te Pāti Māori — has launched an appeal to change the country’s official name to Aotearoa and called for Māori place names to be authoritatively reestablished in the next five years supplanting the likes of Auckland and Wellington.
It comes 49 years after a petition was delivered to parliament which prompted Māori to become an official language.
The petition has likewise called for the country’s House of Representatives to “officially restore” the te Reo Maori (the Maori language) names for all towns, cities, and place names in the next five years.
On the off chance that the progressions are made, the national capital would be called Te Whanganiu-a-Tara, Christchurch would become Ōtautahi and the biggest city of Auckland would be Tāmaki Makaurau, reported news site.
“It’s well past time that Te Reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country,” Te Pāti Māori leaders, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said in a statement launching the petition. “We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa.”
“Aotearoa is a name that will unify our country rather than divide it,” Waititi said. “Others are trying to use it as a divisive tool, but this is an inclusive tool, where our ancestors consented to us all living on this whenua [land] together.”
“New Zealand is a Dutch name. Even the Dutch have changed their name – from Holland to the Netherlands, for Christ’s sakes!”
The petition additionally calls on the government to “identify and officially restore the original Te Reo Māori names for all towns, cities, and places right across the country” throughout the next five years, finishing the process by 2026.
The petition additionally calls for Māori language place names to be adopted around the country by 2026.
“Tangata Whenua [Māori people] are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardized, and ignored. It’s the 21st century, this must change,” the petition reads.
She said in four decades between 1910 and 1950, there has been a decrease in the use and fluency of the Māori language across generations.
“In only 40 years, the colonizers managed to successfully strip us of our language and we are still feeling the impacts of this today.”
The Māori Party at first brought the idea in 2017 and called for state broadcasters to have basic fluency with the Indigenous language.
The proposal was additionally part of its policy platform at the 2020 general election.
Former deputy prime minister Winston Peters, who himself has Māori heritage, criticized the renewed call as “more left-wing radical bulldust” and “just dumb extremism”.
He said the integrity of New Zealand’s international picture should have been considered.
“We are not changing to some name with no historical credibility. We are for keeping us New Zealand.”
The name “New Zealand” was picked by Dutch cartographers in the seventeenth century and beholds back to the territory of Zeeland in the Netherlands. New Zealand has likely been used as a place name for more than “Aotearoa” with the last commonly followed back to the nineteenth century.
Before this other Māori names had been used to refer to the different islands separately. The most perceived translation of Aotearoa is “long white cloud”. Originally this referred to simply the North Island yet in modern usage encompasses the whole country.
In front of last year’s election, Te Pāti Māori said if it won power it would change New Zealand’s name within six years, all towns and cities with “pekaha” (European) names would lose them by 2026, and half of all lessons in schools would be taught in the Māori language (Te Reo Māori) by 2030.
While the Jacinda Ardern-led Labor Party held power in a landslide, the Māori party – which has two out of 120 NZ MPs – has continued onward with its plan.
A parliamentary committee considered the issue in 2019, alongside a proposal for a referendum.
The committee didn’t suggest a name change, yet noticed that the usage of Aotearoa – and bilingual titles – is becoming more common “as an alternative way to refer to New Zealand”.
Aotearoa has been used on New Zealand passports since 2009 and banknotes since 2015.
PM Jacinda Ardern demonstrated last year that the government would not be seeking after an official legal name change, saying residents are using the term Aotearoa all the more frequently all alone.
Te Pāti Māori said progressive governments and “the imposition of a colonial agenda in the education system” had brought about widespread language loss among Māori, with fluency dropping from 90% to 20% over the past 90 years.
“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,” they said.
Over time, New Zealanders, including state officials, political leaders, and organizations have progressively come to use Aotearoa conversely with or close by New Zealand – yet the shift hasn’t been made official.
Prime minister Jacinda Ardern said last year that an official name change, was “not something we’ve explored,” but rather that she supported more individuals using the name. “I hear more and more often the use of Aotearoa interchangeably with New Zealand and that is a positive thing,” she said.
“Whether or not we change it in law I don’t think changes the fact New Zealanders do increasingly refer to Aotearoa, and I think that’s a transition that has been welcomed.”
That progress likewise hasn’t been without controversy. On the right, National party leader Judith Collins has called for a referendum on the use of Aotearoa for various reasons – saying the name was being implemented “by stealth,” and National MP Stuart Smith has floated the idea of banning its use by public officials. Libertarian ACT party leader David Seymour said through Twitter: “People are already free to use Māori placenames. What the Māori Party is saying is it would like to ban people calling our country New Zealand.”
The launch of the petition comes 49 years to the day after the Māori language petition was delivered to parliament – a drive which at last prompted Māori to becoming an official language.
“I acknowledge the people who laid down that challenge,” Waititi said. “In 2021, we continue to take up the challenge and continue to push further, to ensure that the mahi, the work that they have done, is not lost to the history books of the time, but is continued to ensure that we are creating a better Aotearoa for our mokopuna, for the next generation to come.”
He said in the first two and a half hours of the treaty going online, it had accumulated 3,000 signatures. “There is a mood for change,” Waititi said.
The expanded use of indigenous culture and language has been supported by local people, authorities, and surprisingly the country’s prime minister Jacinda Ardern, who said her daughter will be raised learning both the languages: English and te Reo Māori.
Ms. Ardern expressed willingness to acknowledge the native language’s role in understanding culture.
“We haven’t just made that decision thought about how that will happen… It’s an official language. It builds our understanding of Māori culture as well. For me, language is what sits at the heart of that.”
Ms. Ardern has additionally promised to awareness of indigenous culture and language with the end goal of making a bilingual New Zealand and make Te reo Māori available in schools in the next four years.
A few pundits, notwithstanding, have protested the takes on the language and the name ‘Aotearoa’. Stuart Smith, a member of parliament with the opposition National Party, had prior looked to prohibit the use of the word by government authorities.
New Zealand has three official languages: English, Māori, and the New Zealand Sign Language.
Within three days of the launch, the petition has gotten 50,000 signatures, Te Reo Māori’s Twitter account showed.