There seems to be increasing use of the term ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’. I don’t have any issue with the concept of the term in general, but it seems to be creeping into official use. I’m not aware of any official designation of it, so it appears that some are trying to arbitrarily impose it without due process.
This was highlighted in a column by Fran O’Sullivan where she quoted the Race Relations Commissioner using it:
“I am Aotearoa New Zealand … te rangi tahu, together we grow” is in fact the slogan Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy chose as the theme for this year’s International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
I thought race relations would not try to impose an unofficial term and use due process to reach agreement on any change.
The Human Rights Commission website doesn’t use the term…
About This Site
This website is owned by the New Zealand Human Rights Commission. The aim of this website is to promote and educate the New Zealand public on human rights in an accessible and user-friendly format.
…including on it’s Race Relations page but in a link there:
Race Relations Day 2014
Race Relations Day, 21 March, marks the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, which is celebrated around the world. The 2014 theme is “I am Aotearoa New Zealand…te ranga tahi, together we grow.”
Dame Susan is Aotearoa New Zealand from NZ Human Rights on Vimeo.
Belonging and feeling connected is essential for a healthy society. This year’s theme explores the balance between having our own individual identities and the potential of a diverse and united collective. It expresses that everyone here, no matter what their race or cultural background, belongs, and that there are many ways of being a New Zealander. If we understand and appreciate our differences we can grow together into an Aotearoa/New Zealand that is based on dignity and respect.
Complete the sentence “I am Aotearoa New Zealand because…” and share the different ways we can be New Zealanders.
It seems odd for the Race Relations Commissioner to arbitrarily use the term like this. She is likely to divide more than promote togetherness.
If it hasn’t been properly designated then ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ looks like a slogan being imposed.
Aotearoa is generally stated as the Māori name for New Zealand although there seems to be doubt about it’s origin. It may have at one time just referred to the North Island.
The Constitution Act 1986 makes no mention of ‘Aotearoa’.
Greens use the term in their full name – The Green Party of Aotearoa New Zealand – and Green MPs frequently use the term (although abbreviate as per https://www.facebook.com/nzgreenparty).
A search of National’s website finds no official use of the term (or ‘Aotearoa’), there are only references to organisations who use ‘Aotearoa’ in their name.
Labour don’t prominently promote the term but use it in their Māori Development policy:
Labour acknowledges Te Tiriti o Waitangi as the founding document of Aotearoa/New Zealand and accepts that Te Tiriti should be honoured in government, society and the family.
Māori hold a particular status as the indigenous people, tangata whenua of Aotearoa/New Zealand. That status is acknowledged by the United Nations and Labour supports formal recognition of this status.
But their use seems limited, as in their other Māori policy Te Reo Māori they use ‘New Zealand’ alone in English language paragraphs and ‘Aotearoa’ alone in Māori paragraphs.
A search of Labour’s website suggests sparse use:
Maiden speech – Jenny Salesa – New Zealand Labour Party
Oct 24, 2014 … My family moved to Aotearoa New Zealand
Labour will facilitate regional Māori economic development agencies
Aug 17, 2014 … … will take up the challenge to equip rangatahi with the skills they need to build a
quality life in Aotearoa New Zealand,” says Nanaia Mahuta
Oddly the search summary of this quotes “this country AOTEAROA“…
Merry Christmas – New Zealand Labour Party
Dec 22, 2014 … … a very industrious, hard-working family, and we need a government who is
going to ensure that the ‘real workers’ of this country AOTEAROA, …
…but this links to a video message from Labour leader Andreww Little who doesn’t mention any version of a country name at all.
Something as fundamental to New Zealand as the country name (and flag and anthem) should be dealt with due process, and any change should involve proper consultation and official designation.
Aotearoa (from Wikipedia):
Aotearoa (Māori: [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa], originally used in reference to the North Island of New Zealand, is now the most widely known and accepted Māori name for the entire country.
Translation: The original derivation of Aotearoa is not known for certain. The common translation is “the land of the long white cloud”.
When Māori began incorporating the name Aotearoa into their lore is unknown.
After the adoption of the name New Zealand by Europeans, one name used by Māori to denote the country as a whole was Niu Tireni, a transliteration of New Zealand.
From 1845, George Grey, Governor of New Zealand, spent some years amassing information from Māori regarding their legends and histories. He translated it into English, and in 1855 published a book called Polynesian Mythology And Ancient Traditional History Of The New Zealand Race.
Thus died this Maui we have spoken of; but before he died he had children, and sons were born to him; some of his descendants yet live in Hawaiki, some in Aotearoa (or in these islands); the greater part of his descendants remained in Hawaiki, but a few of them came here to Aotearoa.
In the 19th century, Aotearoa was sometimes used to refer to the North Island only.
An example of that usage appeared in the first issue of Huia Tangata Kotahi, a Māori language newspaper published on 8 February 1893. It contained the dedication on the front page, “He perehi tenei mo nga iwi Maori, katoa, o Aotearoa, mete Waipounamu”, meaning “This is a publication for the Māori tribes of Aotearoa and the South Island.
Regardless of it’s origin and historic usage Aotearoa is accepted as a Māori description applying to the whole of New Zealand now – but ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ seems to have no official designation.