“We are a Polynesian country, we are Aotearoa. This is a name that will unite our country, not divide it, ”said the leaders of the Maori Party Raviri Waititi and Debbie Ngareva-Packer in a statement. - New Zealand is a Dutch name. At the same time, the Dutch themselves changed the name of their country from "Holland" to "Netherlands".
The petition, reported by The Guardian, also calls on the government to officially restore the original Maori names of all cities, towns and other place names across the country - by 2026. “Tangata Venua (Maori people - Ed.) Are tired to death of our ancestral names being distorted and ignored. Now is the XXI century, this must change".
The authors of the petition complain that the long-term imposition of a "colonial agenda" in the education system has led to the fact that Maori themselves everywhere forget their language: if 90 years ago 90% of people were fluent in it, today it is only 20%. “It is the duty of the crown to do everything possible to restore the status of our language. This means that it must be available in the most obvious places: on television and radio, on road signs, maps and official advertisements, as well as in the education system".
Now New Zealanders, including government officials, political leaders and entrepreneurs, increasingly use the name Aoteroa interchangeably with New Zealand when naming a country, but officially the country retains its former name. Last year, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said she supported the return of the old name: "Whether we change it in law or not, New Zealanders are increasingly using the name Aotearoa, and this should be welcomed".
However, not all politicians agree with this. Members of the National Party believe that the new name is being introduced "secretly" and that a referendum is needed on it, but for now it is necessary to ban government officials from using it.
By the way, the petition was filed 49 years after the first petition in the Maori language was submitted to parliament - as a result, this led to the fact that Maori received the status of an official language.