Over 10,000 sign Te Pati Māori's place name petition

Over 10,000 people have signed Te Pati Māori's petition to have New Zealand’s name officially changed to Aotearoa and restore the original Te Reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places right across the country by 2026. 

Rawiri Waititi

The petition was launched this morning and was an election 2020 promise by the party. By 5:30pm Tuesday it already had 11,500 signatures. 

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi said there was a "momentum shift and there is a mood for change". 

"It's not to change who we are, but I think to strengthen who we are as a nation.

"This is not about getting rid of anything, this is about to reinstate the original name for this country, Aotearoa, and many of the place names too."

He said it would move Aotearoa into a Te Tiriti-centric country where Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti can equally and equitably make those decisions for the betterment of our people. 

However, the petition did not see support from all - including ACT leader David Seymour who tweeted - "People are already free to use Māori place names. What the Māori Party is saying is it would like to ban people calling our country New Zealand."

"It should focus on real issues, like the 1.6 million people in Tāmaki Makaurau in lockdown."

To which Te Pati Māori replied - "Thanks for using the correct name, Tāmaki Makaurau. We plan to make that official too."

Former Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters also commented on the proposal, calling it, "left-wing radical bull dust", "dumb extremism" and that the place names had "no historical credibility". 

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said there were no plans to go through an official process to change the name of New Zealand. 

"But I am encouraged by the fact that people are using place names interchangeably, and I think that will only continue to grow."