Māori Party has launched a petition to change the official name of the country to Aotearoa, its name in the te reo Māori language
. The campaign also calls on the House of Representatives to restore the Māori names for all towns, cities and place names, according to a statement announcing the petition on Tuesday. "It's well past time that Te Reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country. We are a Polynesian country -- we are Aotearoa," reads the statement, which calls for the renaming process to be completed by 2026.
"Tangata whenua are sick to death of our ancestral names being mangled, bastardised, and ignored. It's the 21st Century, this must change," it reads. Tangata whenua means "people of the land," but is used to refer to the Māori people in general.
Fluency in the Māori language fell from 90% in 1910 to 26% in 1950, according to the statement. "In only 40 years, the Crown managed to successfully strip us of our language and we are still feeling the impacts of this today," said the party.