Who’s name is it?

A column by National’s Kaikoura MP Stuart Smith on our country’s name resulted in an inundation of correspondence:

“The overwhelming reaction to my stance on the matter was incredibly positive from both those who want to retain New Zealand as our name and those who would like it changed to Aotearoa.

“What impacted me the most was the sheer number of people who expressed thanks that I was advocating for New Zealanders to be involved in making this decision. They told me they feel the Labour Government have been arrogant in changing it de facto without any public discussion.

“In my opinion piece I did not argue either for or against a name change. I believe that should not be up to politicians to decide. I argued for a conversation about it.

“Now, having heard from so many Kiwis, I am arguing for more. I say, the Government must put it to a referendum.

“The strength of feeling associated with this subject, no matter the perspective, necessitates that the Government must take it to the people as National did with the flag. Furthermore, Labour must be willing to accept the result as National did when New Zealand voted to retain the flag.

“Surely, Labour must be willing to listen to the people of New Zealand on this. They cannot go on thinking they are more enlightened and know better than the people they govern. They cannot go on demonising those who disagree with them.

“National says listen to the people and put it to a vote. Should we be New Zealand or Aotearoa?”

In the column which precipitated the correspondence, Smith said:

. . .Now, I am not seeking to make a judgement call about whether we should change our name or not. That is neither here nor there. I am simply giving voice to the argument that perhaps before the shift began to be put in motion, New Zealanders themselves should have been consulted.

It is presumptuous and disrespectful to make a decision of such cultural importance for the country without engaging all who live there. . .

As I see it, there is no right or wrong perspective. However, it is wrong for a public service and Government to decide a way forward with no regard for how New Zealanders think or feel about it. . .

Who’s name is it?

It’s the country’s name. It belongs to the country and by extension all its people. If it’s going to be changed, it should be at the will of the people through a referendum  not by stealth by politicians or bureaucrats.

4 Responses to Who’s name is it?

  1. pdm1946 says:

    ` If it’s going to be changed, it should be at the will of the people through a referendum not by stealth by politicians or bureaucrats.’

    Or by the news media – particularly now that almost all media is government funded.

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  2. Lindsay Mitchell says:

    Or academics and public servants…

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  3. Mike Webber says:

    He needs to be asked why he wants our country’s name to be changed from one European name to another. I do not think he knows what he is babbling about.
    Aotearoa is not even a Maori word, it is a European hoax
    We are talking here about the name Aotearoa, the land of the long white cloud.
    It is being promoted, and not for the first time, as a replacement for the old-fashioned, misspelt moniker New Zealand, which, in the eyes of the politically correct, reeks of the Dutch, clogs, windmills and European colonialists in general.
    The majority of New Zealanders, including most Maori, have been through an education process which has convinced them that the original Maori name for the country was Aotearoa, and that this was arbitrarily replaced by European invaders.
    Strenuous attempts have been made to try to link Aotearoa to pre-European usage.Frankly, it is all bollocks.
    Historian Michael King exposed the myth once and for all when he pointed out that Aotearoa was selected and popularised as a romantic Maori name for our islands by Pakeha writers such as William Pember Reeves and Stephenson Percy Smith, as well as the Education Department’s School Journal.
    With propaganda like the school journal (catch the little darlings when they are young and they are yours for life), the theory flourished till it became an established fact.
    It is now politically incorrect to raise a questioning voice.
    The problem is that early Maori were a collection of tribes, not a nation. There was no postal system or communication with the outside world, no diplomatic missions, so there was no need for a collective name for this archipelago and its inhabitants.
    .
    The widespread use of Aotearoa followed the arrival of the Europeans. But up till the 20th century the name applied to the North Island only (or parts of the North Island).
    Maori generally adopted the name Niu Tireni, a transliteration of New Zealand. Various sources cite Te Ika a Maui (the fish of Maui) as a widely used name for the North Island.

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  4. homepaddock says:

    Mike – Stuart doesn’t give his opinion on whether or not the name should change, he’s just arguing that the people should have a say. Thank you for giving the history. So many disparate tribes wouldn’t have had a single name for the whole country, but I thought Aotearoa was applied more to the South Island than the North because of the Southern Alps.

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