An Ōtaki artist is heading for a tour of the North Island to address issues of racism and speak with a number of political figures about the historical and cultural significance of Aotearoa, and why it should be the country’s official name .
Hohepa Campbell, better known as Hori, kicks off his four-day This is Aotearoa tour on Tuesday.
This is part of a wider campaign on his part – Hori’s Pledge – which aims to give people a better insight into te ao Māori and to combat the work of the lobby group Hobson’s Pledge.
Hobson’s Pledge was formed in 2016 and campaigns against what it says is preferential treatment given to Maori.
One of their campaign messages “New Zealand, not Aotearoa” calls on Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern to state publicly that the official name of the country is New Zealand.
Te Pāti Māori launched a petition in September 2021 to have New Zealand’s name officially changed to Aotearoa and to restore the original te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places across the country by 2026.
Campbell’s tour aims to raise awareness among people who may not know the history or cultural significance of the importance of Aotearoa, with his main goal being to see it become the official name.
“I don’t want to cancel the name of New Zealand, it’s part of our history, it’s just to recognize that Aotearoa is the first name of the natives of this country,” he told Pohaturoa Waenga from Te Karere.
“We are looking to have a broader conversation about Aotearoa returning to this ingoa (name) in its place.”
He plans to speak with former politician Don Brash on Thursday as part of his tour.
Brash is a spokesperson for Hobson’s Pledge and has been openly critical of the name change to Aotearoa – with the lobby group itself launching a petition to eradicate Aotearoa from official use.
“For me, it’s about trying to provide them with an understanding and knowledge of a Maori worldview, and that’s what they’re completely missing.
“The renaming of Aotearoa – this was done by Abel Tasman in 1642 so Hobson’s promise is that we’re trying to rename it to Aotearoa where it actually happened the other way around so it’s is in a way a realization of the history of this kupu (word).”
Campbell’s tour begins in Parliament on Tuesday.