Land of the long white cloud
Aotearoa (“Land of the Long White Cloud”) is the Maori name for New Zealand. It is not known whether the entire region of the country had an inclusive Māori name before the arrival of the Europeans; Aotearoa originally referred only to the North Island. The Māori used several names for the two main islands, such as Te Ika-a-Māui (“Māui fish”) for the North Island and Te Waipounamu (“Greenstone waters”) or Te Waka o Aoraki (“Aoraki canoe”) for the South Island.
Explorer Abel Tasman was the first European to visit the islands and initially named them Staten Land, believing them to be part of the islands explorer Jacob Le Maire had discovered off the coast of South America.
Hendrik Breuer denied this when he visited Statenland, today’s Isla de los Estados, in 1643. Dutch cartographers then called the islands visited by Tasman Nova Zeelandia in Latin and New Zealand in Dutch, named after the Dutch province of Zeeland. The name was later transferred to New Zealand.
The country name may change
As the people of New Zealand come to terms with their turbulent past of colonialism and disenfranchisement of the Māori people, the island nation is considering changing the name as part of its own reckoning, according to reports. NPR.
Nowadays, the Māori name appears more and more with the name New Zealand, where Aotearoa means New Zealand, but there is a real chance it will completely replace the English name.
A petition to change the English-speaking Dutch name for New Zealand to Aotearoa, used by the indigenous Maori people, has collected more than 70,000 signatures.
He prompted a parliamentary committee to consider the proposal. If the committee does not clarify the issue of the name change, the New Zealand legislature may call a referendum.
New name, new flag, new form of government?
By the way, New Zealanders rejected the proposal for a new national flag in a referendum six years ago. Just over two million voters turned out; 56.73% voted to maintain the existing flag with colonial ties, while 43.27% favored the new flag.
The issue of form of government is expected to become increasingly important in the island nation. Although the country’s Labor Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, also refers to herself as a Republican, New Zealand’s head of state is currently the second. Elizabeth is the Queen of Britain, and until now the issue of a referendum on the form of government is not a daily topic. According to many, if not by then, then the second. After the end of Elizabeth’s reign, the Long White Cloud Land also got rid of the monarchy.
Cover image source: Getty Images
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