Jacinda Ardern won't commit to 'Aotearoa' country name change

Māori leaders - including the woman who fought to greet customers with 'kia ora' - want 'Aotearoa' to be recognised as an official name of our country.

Dame Naida Glavish famously challenged the right to greet callers with "kia ora" while she was working at the post office 30 years ago - and she's right in behind the case.

"It was Aotearoa before we got a foreign sailor coming in here," she said. "Why should we have to go through the trials and tribulations to be who we are in our own country?"

While Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern won't commit to a legal name change, she instead believes it will happen organically as more New Zealanders learn te reo Māori.

National Party leader Simon Bridges echoed Ardern's idea, believing the name change didn't need to be made legal.

"No, I don't think it needs to be official. But I think many New Zealanders talk about Aotearoa New Zealand," he said.

A 6000-strong petition calling for a referendum to change the country's official name was delivered to a committee of MPs in 2019, but they rejected it because they didn't think a legal name change was "necessary" at that stage.

Ardern also stepped around the question of whether the Māori flag - Tino Rangatiratanga - should be flown every day on government buildings.

She said that wasn't a question that had been put to her yet, but Newshub had asked her the same question in July 2019.

Tino Rangatiratanga was designed 30 years ago - and consensus for it to become the national Māori flag was given in 2009.

But it has no legal status - unlike in Australia where they fly the Aboriginal flag on government buildings year-round.

Bridges added it takes a "clear majority" wanting something before it's made legal.

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy said it's a "beautiful" flag, but she wants to avoid a flag debate because they've been "a bit dodgy" in the past.

A flag debate in election year is clearly something Ardern wants to avoid too.