Peter Williams: It's time to add Aotearoa to our country's name

  • Opinion
  • 30/01/2019

OPINION: Every idea has its time. Who would have thought that this country would so frustrated by politicians breaking their promises in the 80s and early 90s - that we would vote out the old electoral system and vote in a new one?

Who would have thought 20 years ago that we would sing the first part of the national anthem in Maori?

Who would have thought that what we knew as Mt Egmont would become Mt Taranaki?

Has the world changed because we’ve done this? Has the sky fallen in?

We put an “h” in Whanganui despite the ever-present argument over how to actually say the name of the town.

So, is it now time for New Zealand to officially change its name to Aotearoa New Zealand? A Wellington local has started a petition to make the name official. Because Aotearoa is already on all our official documents like birth certificates and passports, he argues we should go the whole hog and call the country Aotearoa New Zealand.

When you think about it, he has a point.

To be honest, I hadn’t looked closely at my cash for a while. So when I went in my wallet this morning, I noticed that sure enough - my $10 note listed our country as New Zealand Aotearoa.

I had to get a new passport late last year. On the main page, the passport owner  is identified as being a citizen of Aotearoa New Zealand.

As far as I know, the driver's licence is about the only official ID document in this country that doesn’t have Aotearoa on it. But for how much longer, I wonder.

I reckon it's time to make it official. The reality is that it will take years, if not generations, for it to become common place. No doubt my generation will keep on calling the country New Zealand until we pop our clogs. But if we recognise Te Reo as an official language, shouldn’t we officially call this country by its Te Reo name?

Just think of the advantages. Our place among the long list of countries will go from being lost between Nepal and Nicaragua, and we'll be right up there with Algeria and Andorra.

When they have the parade of nations at the Olympic Games, we’ll be among the first countries into the stadium.

There’s never been any problem being at the top of the list or near the top of the list, no matter what that list is. Why is Aaron Court the most popular name for a motel? Because it was always first on the alphabetical list in the motel directories. That was rule number one of marketing - make yourself prominent.

But all joking aside, if we became Aotearoa New Zealand, would the world come to an end? The answer is no.

Why not make official what is becoming more and more common place anyway?

But the petition isn’t going too well. He started it in July last year. It’s due to go till the end of February. As of Tuesday he had only 1067 signatures.

I have a feeling this petition isn’t going to fly. But remember, every idea has a time. This one will come, but maybe not this year.

Peter Williams is host of Magic Mornings, weekdays from 9am - midday.