Using 'Aotearoa' and 'New Zealand' together 'as it should be' - Jacinda Ardern

Using 'Aotearoa' and 'New Zealand' together is "as it should be", the Prime Minister says - despite a parliamentary committee earlier this year deciding not to make it official. 

"It's common usage... Māori is an official language and 'Aotearoa' is commonly used alongside 'New Zealand', and I think that's as it should be," Jacinda Ardern, wearing a korowai, told reporters on Tuesday. 

The Prime Minister made the comments at Tuahuru Marae in Te Māhia as part of the official closing ceremony for Tuia 250, a national commemoration to recognise New Zealand's heritage. 

Since Tuia 250 has been a catalyst for recognising Māori culture, Ardern was asked if the Government is considering making 'Aotearoa' an official part of New Zealand's name.  

"Regardless of whether or not it's placed formally, I think it's naturally taken its place as it should."

It comes after two petitions were brought to Parliament in April 2018 and May 2019 calling for 'Aotearoa' to be included in the country's official name. 

The first petitioner, David Chester, said he was concerned that the term 'Aotearoa' is commonly used to refer to New Zealand, but did not appear to have any legal status or legislative entitlement.

He wanted the House of Representatives to pass legislation to change the name of New Zealand so that the full name of the country becomes 'Aotearoa - New Zealand'. 

He later asked that the hyphen in his original request be removed, so that the official name of New Zealand would become 'Aotearoa New Zealand'. 

The second petitioner, Danny Tahau Jobe, wanted a referendum to be held during the term of the current Government, on whether the official name of New Zealand should change to include the name 'Aotearoa'.  

Jobe's petition was picked up by Greens co-leader Marama Davidson and Labour's Louisa Wall, and eventually gathered more than 6000 signatures.  

The Governance and Administration Committee came back in May to say while they acknowledged the "significance" of the name 'Aotearoa' - they didn't consider a legal name change was not needed. 

Māori was declared an official language of New Zealand in 1987 and since then the use of 'Aotearoa' as the Te Reo equivalent of New Zealand has proliferated. 

Lewis Holden, chair of the lobby group Change the NZ Flag, has written about why New Zealand should embrace the official name change.

He said he didn't see the need for a multimillion-dollar referendum on the issue, because 'Aotearoa' is already used widely anyway. 

"Those who take issue with the name really don't have much of a case against change other than potentially cost. But again, that's already largely been absorbed. Let's just make it official."