Duncan Garner: Should we change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa? No - and here's why

OPINION: Should we change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa? 

This is really simple for me - no. 

It won't happen, it shouldn't happen, and if it did, there would be an uproar.

Imagine being overseas: "Where are you from mate?" 


"Oh yeah. Where's that?"  

"New Zealand."

Do I have a problem with changing the official name to Aotearoa, New Zealand? No. Go ahead. 

It ticks all the boxes. It's inclusive, and it recognises the Treaty partnership that kicked this country off. 

But it would be a giant fraud to suggest that Aotearoa as a stand-alone name was somehow the Māori-created name for all of New Zealand. 

It never was. And only in modern times have Māori adopted it as the Māori name for the country. 

My approach will be poo-pooed as politically incorrect by the treaty rent-a-crowd gate-crashers.

But I'm at this party too, along with every other New Zealander.

So here are some facts to dampen their breathless activist rants.

The word Aotearoa was selected and popularised as the Māori name for New Zealand by - wait for this - Pakeha writers William Pember Reeves and Stephenson Percy Smith.

Next, it was used in the Education Department's school journal.

It flourished from there. 

Aotearoa was never used by early Māori to describe New Zealand...

Māori were a collection of tribes and did not have a need for or concept of 'nation'. 

It wasn't a country with a name, it was a collection of tribes across islands.

If anything, later on, there are claims that Aotearoa was used by Māori as a name for the North Island, which is still currently disputed. 

Māori traditionally adopted the name Niu Tireni, a transliteration of New Zealand, which came from the Declaration of Independence of New Zealand in 1831.

I'm sorry to spoil the party for the activists who somehow think Aotearoa is the answer to a problem that quite frankly doesn't even exist. 

Call us New Zealand, yes. Call us Aotearoa, New Zealand, yes. Call us just Aotearoa? No. 

It's total bollocks to suggest this meant anything to pre-European Māori. 

We have perpetuated this myth that Aotearoa goes way back. It doesn't. It's largely European in its roots. How could the activists accept that?

Duncan Garner is the host of The AM Show.