Petition launched to change New Zealand’s Dutch name to a Māori name

The Māori Party of New Zealand wishes to officially change the country’s name, which is of Dutch origin. 

Instead, members of the Māori Party wish to change the name of New Zealand to Aotearoa — and they aren’t alone. The use of the Māori name is becoming more popular among New Zealanders. 

Aotearoa means “land of the long white cloud” and it is what the Māori people call the island in their native language: Te Reo Māori. ☁

Dutch name

The name New Zealand comes from Dutch Nieuw Zeeland. The island was “discovered” in 1642 by a Dutchman named Abel Tasman, who also named Tasmania after himself. 🙄

Also, he thought New Zealand was an island in South America when he first arrived (just sayin’.)

READ MORE | New Zealand’s namesake: how the Dutch named NZ

Restoring the native language

Te Pāti Māori leaders, Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer tell The Guardian, that “it’s well past time that Te Reo Māori was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country[…] We are a Polynesian island.”

The leaders continued in their statement, “New Zealand is a Dutch name. Even the Dutch have changed their name – from Holland to the Netherlands, for Christ’s sakes!” 🤡

Town and city names asked to be restored

The party is also petitioning for all of New Zealand’s towns and cities to be restored to their Māori names by 2026. 

“It is the 21st century, this has to change,” said the party. 

What do you think of the petition? Let us know in the comments below!

Feature Image: kylemyburgh/Unsplash

Nicole Ogden 🇹🇭 🇺🇸
Hailing from the bustling city of Bangkok, Nicole is a Thai/American international student who came to the Netherlands to study linguistics. When she's not reading books or listening to true crime podcasts, she's practising her singing and guitar skills! She is also attempting to pick up the Dutch language (moeilijk).


  1. Putting the word “discovered” within quotation marks points out the absurdity of this proposal. As the Māori leaders well know and acknowledge “Aotearoa” was itself “discovered” by non-Māori peoples. Should NZ go back to that name? And what of the name “Aotearoa”, it is NOT written in the “Māori” alphabet (Google Māori alphabet to see what it looks like.) – If these rebel rousers want to go back in time, then by all means discard everything on the islands post 1642; wouldn’t want to contaminate “Aotearoa” with the white man’s crap.


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