Name change no easy task

Thursday March 07, 2019 Written by Published in Local
Name change no easy task

The supporters backing the name change for the Cook Islands will face an uphill battle in achieving their landmark goal.

The Naming Advisory Committee headed by Danny Mataroa is leading the charge and the name change proposal, which has garnered worldwide attention.

However Clerk of Parliament Tangata Vainerere said changing the country’s name would not be an easy exercise.

Vainerere said the name “Cook Islands” was enacted in the Cook Islands Act 1915 and the Constitution.

He said any change would need the approval by the Parliament with a big majority.

“There has to be proper consultation and eventually there will be a need for a constitutional change because we have two Acts currently carrying those two definitions (for Cook Islands) and they are the Constitution and the Cook Islands Act 1915,” Vainerere said.

“To change that, we will require Parliament to sit because only the Parliament has the power to make changes to any of the laws of the Cook Islands.

“In the Constitution when there is a change required, which is an amendment, we will need the support of two-third majority in the House. But before that even takes place, a whole lot of processes need to be fulfilled until everybody is happy.

“That’s the only way to change the name Cook Islands to whatever name is being proposed.”

A referendum on proposed new name is also expected to take place to get the approval from the public.

Vainerere said it was very important that majority of the people agree to the new name.

An earlier referendum to change the country’s name in 1994 was resoundingly defeated.

“It’s not something that can be promoted only by a few people in their own interest. If we are going to change our name, it’s got to be a name that we all love to be associated with,” he said.

“Also, if we are going to change our name, it’s got to be a marketable name … it’s got to have strong connection to ourselves and our heritage and so on and not merely a coined word.

“I’m sure there are people who have their own ideas and there are of course some people who don’t want the change of name, they rather like the ring (in the name) Cook Islands. “Everybody is entitled to their opinion and its exciting times ahead.”

Initially, the idea was to only change the Maori name, Kuki Airani – a coined word with no meaning, and leave “Cook Islands”.

But the Ariki (top chiefs) together decided on changing the name completely rather than a surrogate name.

This proposal was put to the Naming Advisory Committee, and they agreed with the idea to drop “Cook Islands” for a new Maori name for the country.

The committee has so far received more than 60 name suggestions.

Naming Advisory Committee (current members) – Pa Maire Ariki, Minister George Maggie (Minister for House of Ariki), Puna Rakanui, Danny Mataroa, Paul Allsworth  - Head of Koutu Nui, Maria Henderson, Sam Napa, Dr Jon Jonasson, Rutera Taripo, Tauraki Raea, Keu Mataroa, Terry Rangi, Dr Teina Rongo, Anthony Turua, Julie Taripo Shedden, Thomas Tarurongo Wynne.

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