Curia political poll is grim news for the Nats – but its measure of enthusiasm for “Aotearoa” will be vexing for Maori Party, too

The New Zealand Herald was not alone in reporting on the discomforting results for National in the latest Curia opinion poll and the petition mounted by Maori Party leaders to have the name of this country officially changed to Aotearoa.

The first matter was headlined The National Party’s polling company has the party crashing to within six points of Act

The writer of the report beneath this headline seemed to delight in noting who had conducted this poll.  

The National Party’s historic pollster has the party’s support crashing to historic lows, while Act is on the verge of overtaking it.

A Curia poll, conducted for the Taxpayer’s Union, has National on just 21.2 per cent, with Act close behind on 14.9 per cent.

The result is only a whisker above National’s worst-ever election result, 20.93 per cent in 2002. It is the closest National and Act have ever been in the poll.

Labour is at 45.9 per cent with the Greens on 9.6. Te Paati Māori is on 1.2 per cent.

The previous day brought the news that Māori Party launches petition to change official name of New Zealand to Aotearoa

Māori Party co-leaders Rawiri Waititi and Debbie Ngarewa-Packer today launched the petition which also aims to use te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places by 2026.

“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 country, we are Aotearoa,” Waititi said.

Polynesian country?

Or Pacific country?

The great majority of inhabitants are neither Maori nor Polynesian.

Waititi inevitably brandished the Treaty of Waitangi to support his case for changing a raft of geographical names: 

“Article 3 of Te Tiriti o Waitangi promises tangata whenua the same rights as British citizens, that te reo Māori me ōna tikanga katoa be treated and valued exactly the same as the English language – ko te mana ōrite tērā,” Waititi said.

He didn’t mention that the same treaty does not mention “Aotearoa”, which is the current Māori name for New Zealand, but previously applied only to the North Island.

Earlier Māori names for New Zealand included Nu Tirani and that’s the name used in Te Tiriti o Waitangi.

 But what sort of public support is the Maori Party likely to muster?

Curia conducts polls to measure public opinion on all sorts of things and it gives us a pointer to Kiwi enthusiasm for naming our country Aotearoa.

This enthusiasm is lukewarm, it seems.

More interesting, news media haven’t hooted about the findings in the same way they gleefully highlighted the plight of the National Party.

Accordingly we knew nothing about the poll at Point of Order until we spotted this on David Farrar’s Kiwiblog.

A Curia poll the media have overlooked

The media have covered at length the Curia poll for the Taxpayers Union on the current political environment. But they seem to have overlooked another Curia poll was also released in the last week.

A poll was done for Hobson’s Pledge on whether people support changing the name of the country to Aotearoa.

Media have reported at length how there is a petition to change the name, yet they have overlooked a scientific poll which ascertains whether or not this does have majority support.

The poll found only 28% support a name change to Aotearoa. Twice as many people are strongly opposed as strongly in favour.

It found even Labour voters were slightly more opposed than supportive. The lowest level of support for a name change came in poor (high deprivation) areas.

But let’s suppose the Government ignores public opinion (as it did with rushed legislation to hasten the creation of Maori wards), takes ill-considered heed of the numbers who sign the petition, and does change the country’s name officially to Aotearoa.

Most glaringly, a huge investment in promoting New Zealand and the New Zealand brand around the globe will go down the gurgler.

But something given scant attention is that headline writers will be seriously inconvenienced. 

New Zealand is commonly compacted to NZ.

But how do you compact Aotearoa?

 Here’s a thought:

Aotearoa is made up of either two or three words, Aotea and roa or Ao tea and roa. Aotea could be the name of one of the canoes of the great migration, the great magellan cloud near the bright star Canopus in summer, a bird or even food; ao is a cloud, dawn, daytime, or world; tea white or clear, perhaps bright, while roa means long or tall.

Hence the name of the country could be broken into either two or three words to give us AR or ATR for abbreviating purposes.

But the Ardern Government – we imagine – has no great need to do more favours for a news media which it already is significantly bankrolling.        




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