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New Zealand could potentially change its name after the Māori Party said it is ‘sick to death’ of the ‘colonialist’ European title.
Te Pāti Māori, the country’s Māori Party, launched the campaign on Tuesday, September 14, demanding that the Indigenous name of the country be restored, as well as the Indigenous names for its towns, suburbs and cities.
The petition calls on the government to ‘identify and officially restore’ the original Te Reo Māori-Indigenous place names within the next five years in a process hoped to be completed by 2026.
If the controversial petition succeeds, New Zealand would see its name changed to Aotearoa.
In a statement, Māori Party leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said, ‘It’s well past time that Te Reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country.’
They added, ‘We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa.’
The petition read, ‘Tangata Whenua are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored. It’s the 21st Century, this must change.’
The party leaders also highlighted that fluency rates for the Indigenous language have fallen from 90% to 20% in the past 90 years, and the petition directly addresses this statistic, stating, ‘It is the duty of the Crown to do all that it can to restore the status of our language.’
Winston Peters, New Zealand’s former deputy prime minister and leader of New Zealand First, has already dubbed the name change as ‘dumb extremism’.
‘This is just more left-wing radical bull dust,’ Mr Peters tweeted earlier today.
While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said last September that the nation’s name change to Aotearoa was ‘not something we’ve explored’, she did add, ‘I am really encouraged to continue to see people use it more frequently and I hope to see it used more internationally as well.’
The petition has already gathered more than 12,000 signatures.
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