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.


T said...

I like the tune of the National Anthem (The lyrics are of course another matter) - I even wrote a song in tribute: http://nz.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9SyYbj71jE

There are some flag designs at: http://newnzflags.blogspot.com/

backin15 said...

Count me in.

Rich said...

I'm all for it. Also, we could demand the .aa internet domain and be rightfully first on lists.

However, I don't like the idea of our national anthem being one of those lame old 80's Dunediney tunes that they play when the home side scores a try. We should get Tom Cosm to make us an anthem in psytrance stylee. Or Pip Brown. (or Flight of the Conchords - if we must be mainstream let it be funny).

Uroskin said...

A new national anthem should be at least as rousing as the French one (the only national anthem that is ever sung after kick off!).
Black as a national colour is dispiriting, it should be reserved for fashion and sports only. Nothing wrong with the silver fern flag as a sporting banner, but a national flag should be a little bit more inspiring, such as the South African one.
As for the name, I like Aotearoa, but I don't wish to hear the NuZild vowel strangulation inflicted on it as it inevitably will.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm worng, but isn't Aotearoa already an official name for our nation? My passport says Aotearoa.

My understanding is that since Maori is an official language, the Maori name for the country is also an official name. What you want is for the Maori name to be used in preference for the English name by other countries. I'm hip wi' dat, for all the reasons you suggest. Incidentally, Sam Hunt says that The Gunner's Lament is our national anthem.

Is "Eire" in common useage as a name for Ireland? Might be a similar situation.

Rich said...

Eire is the Irish word for Ireland. Since Ireland prefers the use of Irish (althout English is the most widely spoken first language), the word Eire (or Eireann) appears in offical documents and on Irish-issued Euro coins.

h. a. portas said...

All for it - but would prefer a flag with natural greenery, based on the roundness of the fern-leaf, perhaps, rather than sharp angularity...

Meanwhile - may we link to your blog from here :



_Our_ TeaRoa said...

Yup, would love a link from http://www.brand-aotearoa.com/

GavMB said...

Great argument!
Suggestion: Put this on change.org