An Ōtaki artist is heading on a tour of the North Island to address issues of racism and speak with a number of political figures about the historical and cultural significance behind Aotearoa, and why it should be the country’s official name.
Hohepa Thompson, known to most as Hori, kicks of his four-day This is Aotearoa tour on Tuesday.
It’s part of a wider campaign of his - Hori’s Pledge - which aims to give people more insight into te ao Māori and combat the work of lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.
Hobson’s Pledge was formed in 2016 and campaigns against what it says is preferential treatment given to Māori.
One of their campaign’s “New Zealand not Aotearoa” calls for Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to publicly affirm that the country’s official name is New Zealand.
Te Pāti Māori in September 2021 launched a 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.
Thompson's tour aims to spread awareness around the importance of Aotearoa to people that may not know the history or cultural meaning, with his main goal of seeing it become the official name.
“I don't want to cancel the name New Zealand, it's part of our history, it's just acknowledging that Aotearoa is the first given name by the native people of this country,” he told Te Karere's Pohaturoa Waenga.
“We’re looking to have a bigger conversation around returning Aotearoa that ingoa (name) back to where it belongs.”
He is planning on speaking with former politician Don Brash on Thursday as part of his tour.
Brash is a spokesman for Hobson’s Pledge and has been openly critical of the name change to Aotearoa - with the lobby group itself launching a petition to eradicate Aotearoa from official use.
“For me it's to try and offer them some understanding and some knowledge from a Māori world view, and this is what they’re missing out on completely.
“The actual renaming of Aotearoa - that was done by Abel Tasman in 1642, so Hobson's pledge is saying that we are trying to rename it as Aotearoa where it actually happened the other way so it's kind of bringing awareness to the history of that kupu (word).”
Thompson's tour begins at Parliament on Tuesday.