11 Oct 2013

Campaigner rejects name change decision

9:06 am on 11 October 2013

A Christchurch man who started the campaign to put Maori names of the North and South Islands back on the map is unhappy with the Government's decision to adopt the alternative titles.

On Thursday, it was announced Land Information Minister Maurice Williamson agreed to the Geographic Board's recommendation to assign Te Ika ā Māui for the North Island and Te Wai Pounamu for the South Island. The names will be able to be used either individually or together.

A Pakeha man Keith Darroch made the original submission in 2004 and says the North Island should be called Aotearoa.

Mr Darroch says in early Kingitanga publications and the Ratana Church prayer book, the leaders of those movements referred to the North and South Islands as Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu.

He wants both movements to step up and tell the Maori Affairs Select Committee that the name Aotearoa is a taonga and should not be replaced by Te Ika a Maui.

Mr Darroch says people mistakenly use Aotearoa as a Maori name for the whole of New Zealand when in fact it only applies to the North Island.

Mr Darroch says he blames people like Sir George Gray - the colonial Governor of New Zealand - and historians such as Percy Smith for perpetuating the myth that Aotearoa was a pan-tribal name for New Zealand, when there was actually no Maori nationhood because tangata whenua operated as independent tribes.

Ngai Tahu approves of decision

Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Sir Mark Solomon is thrilled with the Government's approval to use the alternative Maori names.

Sir Mark says using both Maori and English names for the two main islands acknowledges New Zealand's bicultural history and recognises the two founding cultures of this country - Maori and Pakeha.

The Ngai Tahu leader says both Maori names have a beautiful history behind them; Te Ika ā Māui, the Fish of Maui and Te Wai Pounamu, the waters of greenstone, and they tell an amazing story of the landscape.