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Aotearoa (Māori: [aɔˈtɛaɾɔa]; commonly pronounced by English speakers as // (listen)) is the Māori name for New Zealand. It was originally used by Māori in reference to only the North Island but, since the late 19th century, the word has come to refer to the nation as a whole, including the South Island. Several meanings have been proposed for the name; the most popular meaning usually given is "long white cloud", or variations thereof.
Beginning in the late 20th century, Aotearoa is becoming widespread in the bilingual names of national organisations and institutions. Since the 1990s, it has been customary to sing the New Zealand national anthem, "God Defend New Zealand" (or "Aotearoa"), in both Māori and English, exposing the name to a wider audience.
|Pronunciation at Kōrero Māori, the Māori Language Commission website|
The original meaning of Aotearoa is not known. The word can be broken up as: ao = cloud, dawn, daytime or world, tea = white, clear or bright and roa = long. It can also be broken up as Aotea = the name of one of the migratory waka that travelled to New Zealand, and roa = long. The common translation is "the land of the long white cloud". Alternative translations are ‘long bright world’ or ‘land of abiding day’ referring to the length and quality of the New Zealand daylight (when compared to the shorter days found further north in Polynesia).
In some traditional stories, Aotearoa was the name of the canoe of the explorer Kupe, and he named the land after it. Kupe's wife (in some versions, his daughter) was watching the horizon and called "He ao! He ao!" ("a cloud! a cloud!"). Other versions say the canoe was guided by a long white cloud in the course of the day and by a long bright cloud at night. On arrival, the sign of land to Kupe's crew was the long cloud hanging over it. The cloud caught Kupe's attention and he said "Surely is a point of land". Because of the cloud which greeted them, Kupe named the land Aotearoa. Aotearoa can also be broken up as: aotea-roa. Aotea is the name of one of the Māori migration canoes. The first land sighted was accordingly named Aotea (Cloud), now Great Barrier Island. When a much larger landmass was found beyond Aotea, it was called Aotea-roa (Long Aotea).[note 1]
It is not known when Māori began incorporating the name into their oral lore. Beginning in 1845, George Grey, Governor of New Zealand, spent some years amassing information from Māori regarding their legends and histories. He translated it into English, and in 1855 published a book called Polynesian Mythology And Ancient Traditional History Of The New Zealand Race. In a reference to Māui, the culture hero, Grey's translation of the Māori read as follows:
Thus died this Maui we have spoken of; but before he died he had children, and sons were born to him; some of his descendants yet live in Hawaiki, some in Aotearoa (or in these islands); the greater part of his descendants remained in Hawaiki, but a few of them came here to Aotearoa.
The use of Aotearoa to refer to the whole country is a post-colonial custom. Before the period of contact with Europeans, Māori did not have a commonly-used name for the entire New Zealand archipelago. As late as the 1890s, the name was used in reference to the North Island only; an example of this usage appeared in the first issue of Huia Tangata Kotahi, a Māori-language newspaper published on February 8, 1893. It contained the dedication on the front page, "He perehi tenei mo nga iwi Maori, katoa, o Aotearoa, mete Waipounamu", meaning "This is a publication for the Māori tribes of Aotearoa and the South Island".
After the adoption of the name New Zealand (anglicised from the Dutch Nova Zeelandia) by European settlers, one name used by Māori to denote the country as a whole was Niu Tireni,[note 2] an approximation of New Zealand.
The expanded meaning of the word was popularised in the late 19th century. Aotearoa was used for the name of New Zealand in the 1878 translation of "God Defend New Zealand", by Judge Thomas Henry Smith of the Native Land Court—this translation is widely used today when the anthem is sung in Māori. Additionally, William Pember Reeves used Aotearoa to mean New Zealand in his history of the country published in 1898, The Long White Cloud Ao-tea-roa.[note 3]
Since the 20th century, Aotearoa is becoming widespread in the bilingual names of national organisations, such as the National Library of New Zealand / Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.
|Look up Aotearoa in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|