Tauranga MP weighs in on Aotearoa debate

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges. Photo. File Image. SunLive.

However, he believes a referendum would be needed if it is to be adopted as part of, or a replacement for, New Zealand, as the official name of the country. 

The Māori Party launched a petition last week, spearheaded by co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer, with the aim of changing the nation’s name to Aotearoa and implementing the use of te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places by 2026.

At the time of writing, the petition has roughly 60,000 signatures. 

Winston Peters and NZ First countered with a petition to keep the name New Zealand whilst the Hobson’s Pledge lobby group went a step further, launching a petition calling on Aotearoa to be removed from official use until a referendum took place. 

The petition, led by former ACT Party leader Don Brash and former police officer Casey Costello, also calls on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to denounce Aotearoa and publicly state that the official name of the nation is New Zealand. 

Bridges, however, does not believe the name should be banned from official use. That being said, he believes a referendum, such as those in November-December 2015 and March 2016 to decide the future of New Zealand’s flag, is the only way any official name change should be implemented. 

“I don't think Aotearoa should be banned,” he says. 

“It's a free world and people can use what they want. 

“But if it's going to become part of our nation's official name, or the only word as a replacement for New Zealand, then it should be subject to a referendum.

“We had one on our flag and our official name is every bit as important.”

On a personal note, the National Party MP says he would prefer it if the name stayed the same.

“For me personally, I prefer what I have grown up with, just simple New Zealand,” he states.

“After all, I consider myself a New Zealander first and foremost.”

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Another overreaction morepork

Posted on 27-09-2021 16:55 | By R. Bell

surely you’re not claiming there is no racism in NZ. Wanting Maori names is a perfectly natural thing to ask for. They make sense, but if you think that is racism I’m afraid you are sadly mistaken. Racism is the promotion of one race being superior to another, you know a little like the guy who said Maori were heading for extinction but are being replaced by a superior race. As for your misunderstanding of te puapua. It is a discussion document on how best to include Maori in all aspects of N.Z life. It is not government policy other than health and education reforms. Surely you can’t object to that, Or can you? Rangatira do not and never will mandate anything. Just more misinformation from the far right. Tut Tut.


Posted on 25-09-2021 13:47 | By morepork

"...a little dash of racism..."? Trying to force the use of Maori names, without consultation or regard, is a HUGE dose of racism that non-Maori racists can only be in awe of. EVERYBODY should be able to use whatever name they are comfortable with for local places, without a particular form being mandated. And the official name of the country can be debated and discussed, then voted on. As if we lived in a Democracy. Never mind, once you get he puapua in place you won’t have to worry about what the majority want... The rangatira can just decree it.


Posted on 25-09-2021 12:14 | By dyank

I truly support Simon and think he has got this idea right too. Call it anything you want, but if it is an official change - have a referendum. Just makes sense.

How ironic can it be,

Posted on 25-09-2021 09:26 | By R. Bell

that all opposing comments are from those who constantly indulge in name changing. Aotearoa / New Zealand is as good a compromise as can be expected, Let’s just stick with that and all can relax be happy and dream up the next name change for our favourite comments column. Having said all that, names have to have some historical meaning to make them relevant to ALL residents "New Zealand" is a bit meaningless considering the man who named it never even landed here. Boneheaded and stubborn attitudes will no doubt rule the day, with a little dash of racism.

New Zealand Proud

Posted on 25-09-2021 07:24 | By Thats Nice

By the sounds of things on TV, radio and newspapers the name has already been changed which disgusts me. The people of NZ have not had a say on this and until they do it stays New Zealand. If the citizens vote on a change then I’m more than happy.

All New Zealanders

Posted on 24-09-2021 21:46 | By Consequences

All New Zealanders should have a say. This is a democracy and separatist agendas have no place. Two world wars were fought for freedom with great cost of lives, we stood together no matter what culture for freedom.

Name Change

Posted on 24-09-2021 15:00 | By CliftonGuy

So, if we change our name, ANZAC Day will change to AAAC Day.


Posted on 24-09-2021 14:56 | By Told you

NO it should not be changed, it’s like changing your name because you don’t like the one you have got. And it is geographically wrong, it only represents the South Islands, so in other words leave well alone. ( If it aren’t broke don’t touch it.)

A binding referendum...

Posted on 24-09-2021 13:31 | By morepork

... as we had for the flag, should be mandatory. Replacing ALL place names with the Maori equivalent is Racist and provocative. People who live in a town should be able to use either name freely. The Country Name is more important because of trade and marketing, but even then, in non-formal situations, people should be able to use Aotearoa or New Zealand, depending on what they are comfortable with.


Posted on 24-09-2021 12:33 | By Let's get real

I won’t be signing the petition and I won’t be voting for a name change, but I could care less which side wins.... This is nothing more than an absurd waste of time and an extraordinary waste of money that will be deeply regretted for not being used to pay down international debt. The true cost of the virus is yet to be identified and added to the huge amount of borrowing that is currently being undertaken by the irresponsible government in their pandering to prospective voters. Billions of dollars in debt before the multi-billion dollar cost of changing a name that only represents a small sector of our multinational community. The Maori party and the Greens are great examples of the inefficiency of Parliament and the taxes that are being wasted on absolute nonsense that need only be put to referendum. The current Politicians couldn’t run a bath.

Time wasters

Posted on 24-09-2021 12:24 | By Slim Shady

They would serve their people better by getting them vaccinated and stop wasting time. This is a side show that is going nowhere.


Posted on 24-09-2021 12:07 | By dumbkof2

how can a place be called long white cloud

I Don't Think The Majority Want This

Posted on 24-09-2021 11:54 | By Womby

Every business and personal website address and email is www.anz.co.nz etc. What a nightmare to appease fifteen per cent of the population

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