“We are one of the few Pacific Island states not known by an indigenous name.”
That’s the indictment from Terei Mataiapo Iaveta Short, in his new book False Start in Paradise.
“I believe a day will come when our leaders will have the courage to restore our true and proper name to these islands – Avaiki – the homeland of the Maori, the last discoverers of land on earth of the human race.”
He adds: “We are the ‘pito enua’ the centre piece from whence our people migrated and inhabited the last land mass of the uninhabited world, Aotearoa.”
Vaka Takitumu’s paramount chief Pa Upokotini Ariki says it is now time to decide a new name. “I fully support a Maori ancestral name for our nation,” she said.
Pa Ariki had presented a proposal of ideas of a traditional names to the House of Ariki and government in January last year.
She is hopeful Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown, who also carries the title of Te Ara Rangatira, will be open to the name change suggestion when he takes over as Prime Minister in September.
Uri Mataiapo Danny Mataroa doesn’t just want a Maori name; he also wants the English name “Cook Islands” removed.
Mataroa was the chairman of the committee selected to oversee the changing of the name, which considered more than 100 alternatives.
The first proposal they put forward was for a complete change; the second was for the Kuki Airani name to be changed to a traditional name, said Mataroa.
People were used to the name Cook Islands, “but this name has no history, no meaning, no mana and no value. We need to do something about it now.
“Our country should be about our own sovereignty.”
Te Koutu Nui president Paul Allsworth said: “We totally support a name change, to a suitable and publicly approved Maori name.
“What that name is, remains to be nationally discussed and agreed upon. When that is, the actual timing, also remains to be confirmed.”
Due to the current global and regional pandemic, it was not an immediate priority, Allsworth added. “This proposal can be better addressed in the later years say leading up to 2025, our 60th self-government anniversary.”
But House of Ariki president Tou Ariki said: “We have already been down this road … We will look at this issue again some time later on, but not now.”
In 1994 a name change was put to a vote and rejected.
The committee that convened last year included 12 chiefs of the Pa Enua who were tasked with finding a new name for the country, at the time they had received tentative support from the government.