And what about ‘Aotearoa’?

Following on from A constitution for Aotearoa New Zealand? – what about also having a serious conversation about the name of our country?

I don’t like what seems to be happening, change by stealth. Our country is currently called ‘New Zealand’ and I don’t think it should be referred to as ‘Aotearoa New Zealand’ – yet at least.

We should discuss it openly and decide whether we want to continue to be known as New Zealand, or if we should revert to the indigenous version, Aotearoa.

I’d be quite happy for and supportive of a change to Aotearoa, but it should be decided, not imposed by creeping imposition.

‘New Zealand’ isn’t even the first European name for our country.

In 1642 Abel Tasman named it Staten Landt.

In 1645 Dutch cartographers renamed it Nova Zeelandia.

Over a century later James Cook anglicised it to New Zealand.

‘Aotearoa’ has also evolved as a name.It originally referred to the North Island but gradually became used for and accepted as a name for the whole country.

The common translation is ‘land of the long white cloud’ but ‘long bright world’ or ‘land of abiding day’ are also possibilities.

It can depend on how the word is broken down.

  • Aotea: a cloudy-white or blue-grey variety of greenstone resembling white clouds
    Aotea: canoe that brought Turi and his people from Hawaiki, eventually arriving in Taranaki where they intermarried with the tangata whenua tribes
  • Roa: long time, length, length of time, delay


  • Ao: world, globe, global
    Ao: bright
    Ao: earth
    Ao: day, daytime – as opposed to night
    Ao: cloud
  • Tea: white, clear, transparent
  • Roa: long time, length, length of time, delay

So there is plenty of scope there.

Roa is also the name for the great spotted kiwi, Apteryx haastii, but ‘land of the transparent kiwi’ is probably not a goer.

I like playing with language but that’s really a diversion.

Regardless of what it was originally intended to mean ‘Aotearoa’ is widely accepted as one name for our country. I’d be quite happy if it became our sole name and ‘New Zealand’ drifted off into a part of our history.

But I expect that woukld be a bit contentious.



  1. Gezza

     /  September 17, 2016

    Country name AND President issues both solved!

    • Corky

       /  September 17, 2016

      One of my favourite comedians.Good one.

      • Gezza

         /  September 17, 2016

        Cheers Corky. Can hardly wait for Wayne’s input on this issue, and the constitution one as well. These are the sorts of things we need input on from the deep thinkers.

  2. Alan Wilkinson

     /  September 17, 2016

    Names don’t bother me. Discriminatory laws do.

    • I agree. Discriminatory laws that, for instance, demand individualism of a collective group or people, a community or minority, capable of deciding and expressing their own values, should be gotten rid of or altered to allow the fullest possible play of both …

      I believe the country is innappropriately named at present, so I’ll call it Aotearoa New Zealand.

      I have similar feelings about our cannabis laws and consequently I deny their validity …

      Marijuana is a medicinal and recreational herb, just as Aotearoa New Zealand is a biculturally founded multicultural nation …

    • Blazer

       /  September 17, 2016


      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  September 17, 2016

        If you must announce your arrival, Blazer, rate yourself worth a capital letter when you do.

  3. Quite some time ago I promised someone at The Standard that i would write a post on changing the country’s name. I belatedly fulfilled that promise by posting on it there today.

    Some things never seem to change there – the first response is from the one troll who seems to persist in being a pathetic abusive arse there:


    Oh noes! Fascistism!

    Can Petty George provide legitimacy to something that belongs to tangata whenua, or is he just an author of sad racist clickbait?


    No need to discuss, their shitting in their own nest speaks for itself.

    • Corky

       /  September 17, 2016

      “There is only one thing in the world worse than being talked about….

      Pete, that makes you one up on me.

      However, the post does show why I think a New Zealand constitution would be a nightmare.

      • The nightmare will soon become NOT having a Constitution Corky … It already is for some people of this nation …

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  September 17, 2016

      typically pathetic response from OAB – how they can read “sad racist” into your acceptance of the need to decolonise our identity escapes me.

      Best they change their name to OAF – one anonymous fool/fraud/fuckwit (circle your preferred option)

  4. Strong For Life

     /  September 17, 2016

    I back renaming the country Aotearoa. Perhaps if there is another flag referendum in the future it could include the option of renaming NZ to Aotearoa.

    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  September 17, 2016

      There won’t be another flag referendum in our lifetime unless the outcome has been politically set in concrete first. The natives are too easily seduced into destructive mode on something so ephemeral to them.

      • Yeah well … another way of looking at that is: The elitists are too easily coaxed, enticed, bribed or corrupted into manipulative, exploitative mode on something so corporeal and materialistic to them.

        • “Never mind the gravitas … feel the dosh”

          • Alan Wilkinson

             /  September 17, 2016

            You have never tried to get a client’s staff to agree on the aesthetics of a screen layout. That is a guaranteed cure for ever making the mistake of asking them again.

            • Depends HOW you asked them Alan …?

            • Alan Wilkinson

               /  September 17, 2016

              Nope it doesn’t, PZ. When it comes to aesthetics everyone has an opinion and a strong entitlement to it. And they will never ever agree.

  5. Zedd

     /  September 17, 2016

    I think IF/when we are to become a Republic.. it should be “Aotearoa” & the town/cities renamed with their ‘traditional REO names’ eg Tamaki Makaurau, Otepoti etc. 😀

  6. Ray

     /  September 17, 2016

    I notice that no one has pointed out the one huge advantage (and a real vote winner) is that Aotearoa is way up near the top of the alphabet
    No more waiting for hours for our team at sporting contests and much more important no more scrolling down for ages looking for New Zealand on computer forms
    Win, win.

  7. I really think that this sort of thing is premature, and should be timed for consideration in a parcel that determines how the future Head of State is to be chosen, and a new Constitution that should be used to form an updated Bill of Rights. New Zealand is an English corruption of Abel Tasman’s name conferred on it. The Dutch never colonised us, but the English did. So using Aotearoa is a nod away from Colonial powers and an out of date Dutch influence. However, what is in a name? How about South Sealand-Aotearoa?