A New Name For Our Country

It's time we had a name of our own.

Not one chosen by some obscure Dutch cartographer, upon realising that Abel Tasman was confused and he hadn't landed on Staten Landt. One that comes from us, the people of these islands. One that has meaning, not a reference to a far-off place very few of us know, or have any link to.

Aotearoa is the Land of the Long White Cloud; who could point out Zeeland on a map? Or should that be Zealand - even whoever translated our current name into English seems to have been confused.

Aotearoa is a name we can all feel connected to. Although Maori, it appears to have been Pakeha who first spread its use as a name for the whole country. Before the Pakeha came Maori had no need for a name to define these islands from anywhere else; now we can together have a name that we all share in and identify with, to present to the world.

Many would see it as too difficult to change a country's name; but we are a nation that embraces change and isn't scared of a little self-improvement. Some would cry out that we'll lose our clean, green & friendly brand recognition; but done correctly we could actually increase the world's knowledge of our little corner of the world. The Aotearoa Rename Movement proposes a 15-year period of being called Aotearoa New Zealand, to transfer the brand recognition. This would also enable us to have 2 name changes that would be heavily covered by the world's media. Western nations do not change their names; this would be something unique and worthy of much note - bringing our story to be covered by the world.

Other than giving us a completion of our own cultural identity - finally accepting adulthood and the split from Mother Britain - there would be other peripheral benefits:

- We would leap up the telephone book of nations. No more waiting forever, wondering when we will show up at the Opening Ceremony; there we are at the front, ahead of Australia!

- With a change of name it would be the perfect opportunity to change the flag to the Silver Fern. We all like it, and we're all sick of the current one being confused with our neighbour's - let's change the flag!

- There would have to be a new National Anthem - so we would get to ditch the dirge we currently have. Something more uplifting would be in order, so we could look down on Advance Australia Fair and The Star-Spangled Banner the way we'd like to - if only they weren't so much better tunes than ours. We could have a competition; with our flowering of cultural identity in the last 20 or so years we now have many talented songsmiths. Dave Dobbyn has given us a de facto anthem in Loyal - perhaps he could write us proper one? The Finn brothers in Split Enz gave one of the great boosts to the widespread use of Aotearoa in Six Months In A Leaky Boat - hopefully they'd be keen to pen us a possibility. And that's before we get to the current talented crop - what could Bic Runga, Elemeno P, The Datsuns or Fat Freddy's Drop come up with? Maybe even Flight of The Conchords might put an entry in - certainly Fred Dagg's We Don't Know How Lucky We Are would do as a stop-gap until the competition was sorted.

- We have no official colour, flower or motto, so we might as well define those. Black and the Silver Fern seem pretty obvious for the first two; we welcome suggestions for the motto.

So that's the Aotearoa Rename Movement case: no less than finally choosing our own identity. What do you think? If you agree that we should rename ourselves Aotearoa, join the movement: all you need to do is email.