Long White Cloud Land
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 bore a comprehensive Maori name before the arrival of the Europeans; Aotearoa originally referred only to the North Island. The Maoris used several names for the two main islands, such as Te Ika-a-Māui (“Maui 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 that they were part of the islands discovered by explorer Jacob Le Maire off the coast of South America.
Hendrik Breuer denied this when he visited Statenland, today Isla de los Estados, in 1643. Then Dutch cartographers 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 name of the country may change
As the people of New Zealand come to terms with their turbulent past of colonialism and the denial of rights to the Maori people, the island nation is considering a name change as part of its own expense, according to reports. NPR.
Nowadays, the Maori name appears more and more often with the name New Zealand, where Aotearoa means New Zealand, but there is a real chance of replacing the entire English name.
A petition to change the Dutch written name in English for New Zealand to Aotearoa, used by the indigenous Maori people, collected more than 70,000 signatures.
Pay a parliamentary committee to consider the proposal. If the commission does not clarify the question of a name change, the New Zealand legislature may call for a referendum.
A new name, a new flag, a new form of government?
Incidentally, New Zealanders rejected the proposal for a new national flag in a referendum six years ago. Just over two million voters participated; 56.73% voted to keep the current flag with colonial ties, while 43.27% favored the new flag.
The issue of the form of government is expected to become increasingly important in the island nation. Although the country’s Labor Party Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, also refers to herself as a republican, New Zealand’s head of state is currently second. Elizabeth is Britain’s Queen, and until now the question of a referendum on the form of government is not an everyday topic. According to many, if not by then, the second. After the end of Elizabeth’s reign, the “Land of the Long White Cloud” also got rid of the monarchy.
Cover image source: Getty Images
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