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Aotearoa? It's New Zealand

Michael Laws: Destroying our history and heritage is not a solution. Editorial 3rd June 2022.
Michael Laws
Talkback Host and Contributing Writer
June 3rd, 2022

OPINION: The petition of Te Pāti Māori to junk our country’s name and substitute the word ‘Aotearoa’ has been presented to Parliament with allegedly 70,000 supporting signatories.

The aim of the petition is two-fold.

First, advance a separatist Maori agenda.

Second, deny and devalue the role of the British Crown and Pakeha settlers in developing this nation.

Oh, and you can probably add a third. Junking the first article of the Treaty of Waitangi. The one that says that the Crown is in charge. The English version reads:

cede to Her Majesty the Queen of England absolutely and without reservation all the rights and powers of Sovereignty.

The Māori version is slightly different – but only slightly. That is translated as:

give absolutely to the Queen of England for ever the complete government [kawanatanga] over their land.

Pretty clear. As clear as New Zealand being the country’s name. The one that the entire world knows us by. The one chosen by a Dutch cartographer in 1646, anglicised by the Brits, and implicitly accepted by the Māori signatories to the Treaty in 1840.

We are New Zealanders. Not Aotea-roans.

So how bizarre that in 2022 – attempts are underway to rename our nation, junk our history and denigrate our heritage. All in the name of … ah, there’s the question.

All in the name of separatism. A separatism that denies the role of the British government and generations of Pakeha settlers in developing this nation, making it First World, and then creating one of the best trading nations on this planet.

And how deeply ironic that the most amazing gift that those early Brits gave to Māori – a written language – is the vehicle for that separatism.

This latest attempt to divide, deny and denigrate.

Michael Laws is a former MP and Mayor and is now deputy chairman of the Otago Regional Council. He has hosted both radio and TV shows for Radio Pacific, Radio Live and SKY Television. He is an award-winning writer – and has published three bestselling books.