The latest referendum to change New Zealand’s national flag showed our hankering for a deeper sense of identity. The flag was not changed in the end, but perhaps we should first consider changing the name of our country to its Maori name ‘Aotearoa’. Maori is an official language of New Zealand, spoken by its indigenous people.
There are also some more compelling reasons to use the Maori name instead of New Zealand for our country.
- It just sounds better, more poetical and descriptive.
- It better describes our land. The basic translation is as follows: Ao - cloud, dawn, daytime or world. Tea - white, clear or bright. Roa - long. Usually the translation is ‘land of the long white cloud.’ But alternate translations could be ‘long bright world’ or ‘land of the long day,’ referring perhaps to the length of days and the bright quality of our sunlight.
The Maori name is more descriptive of the land we live in. Clouds and cloudy days are ubiquitous in Aotearoa. It also alludes to our seafaring origins, both Maori and European as the great bank of clouds are often the first thing sailors see when the approach the shores of Aotearoa. Mountain ranges create standing waves of long lenticular clouds anchored to these island far out in the South Pacific.
So the name and the land are tied together.
Our English name, New Zealand, on the other hand is pretty unexciting with no easily traceable origins. It is thought Captain Cook translated it into English from the Dutch ‘Zealandia Nova’, meaning ‘new sea land’ or that he named it after the Danish island, Zealand. A pretty utilitarian name for a scattering of ‘new’ islands deep in the Pacific Ocean.
At Faraway, we believe Aotearoa is a better sobriquet for the beautiful island nation we live in. So we have a number of slogan print designs in our collections. The number 00 refers to midnight or zero o’clock the start of each new day in the world.