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New Zealand Maori Party launches campaign to change country’s name to Aotearoa

New Zealand’s official name is expected to be changed to Aotearoa, the country’s Maori name, according to the country’s Maori party which has launched a petition to this effect.

The petition also called on the country’s House of Representatives to “officially return” te reo Maori (the Maori language) names for all towns and place names over the next five years.

If the changes are made, the national capital would be called Te Whanganiu-a-Tara, Christchurch would become Ōtautahi and Auckland’s largest city would be Tāmaki Makaurau, news.com.au news site reported.

“It is high time that Maori te reo regained its rightful place as the first official language of this country. We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa, ”said the party’s petition – Te Pāti Māori.

The main objective of the petition is to urge the country’s parliament to “change New Zealand into Aotearoa and start a process, alongside whānau [extended families], Hey [clans or descent groups] and iwi [tribes], the local government and the New Zealand Geographical Council to officially identify and restore the original Te reo Maori names for all cities and places across the country by 2026. ”

The petition also cited a decline in language proficiency due to the colonial influence that permeated the country’s population.

“The name changes during our whenua [land] and the imposition of a colonial program in the education system in the early 1900s meant that the mastery of te reo Maori among our tupuna [grandparent or ancestor] rose from 90% in 1910 to 26% in 1950, ”the petition states.

“In just 40 years, the Crown has succeeded in stripping us of our language and we are still feeling the impacts today. It is totally unacceptable that 20% of the Maori population and 3% of the inhabitants of Aotearoa can speak Te reo Maori, ”he added.

Maori party leader Rawiri Waititi insisted the demands be met.

“New Zealand is a Dutch name. Even the Dutch have changed their names – from Holland to the Netherlands, for god’s sake! He was quoted as saying by The Guardian.

Seeking to restore the status of the mother tongue, the party petition read: “It must be accessible in the most obvious places: on our televisions, on our radio stations, on road signs, maps and official advertising. , and in our education system. “

The increased use of indigenous culture and language has been supported by locals, authorities and even the country’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, who said her daughter would be raised learning both languages: English and the Maori te reo.

Ms Ardern expressed her willingness to accept the role of the mother tongue in understanding culture.

“We haven’t just made this decision as to how it’s going to be… It’s an official language. It also strengthens our understanding of Maori culture. For me, language is what is at the heart of this.

Ms. Ardern is also committed to raising awareness of indigenous culture and language with a view to creating a bilingual New Zealand and making Maori te reo accessible in schools over the next four years.

Some critics, however, have criticized the interpretations of the language and the name “Aotearoa”. Stuart Smith, member of parliament from the National Opposition Party, had previously sought to ban the use of the word by government authorities.

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori, and New Zealand Sign Language.


The Independent Gt