by Karl du Fresne

The jury has returned its verdict, and it’s emphatic. New Zealanders want the country’s name left as it is.

In a Newshub-Reid Research poll, respondents were asked what they thought New Zealand should be known as.

Fifty-two percent wanted the country to be called New Zealand, pure and simple. Thirty-six percent wanted Aotearoa in the mix, as in the ungainly, bob-each-way formulation Aotearoa-New Zealand.

But here’s the crunch: only 9.6 percent of those polled thought the country should be renamed Aotearoa. This is a resounding rebuff to the political, bureaucratic, academic and media elites who have tried for years to impose Aotearoa by sheer frequency of usage.

Predictably the poll results were buried deep in a Newshub story, despite the network having paid for the research. You can bet it would have been the lead item in the 6pm news if the results had gone the other way.

Newshub’s political editor Jenna Lynch chose to mention the poll almost as an afterthought in a story that was mainly concerned with taking puerile digs at National Party leader Christopher Luxon over his speech at Waitangi. 

There can’t be a sentient being in New Zealand who expects straight journalism from Lynch. She appears incapable of it. I no longer watch the Newshub News but I can imagine her reporting the survey findings through gritted teeth.  

The question now is whether the aforementioned elites, having noted the poll findings, will abandon their campaign to have Aotearoa adopted in popular usage. But of course they won’t, because they have little regard for the will of the people and like all elites, are convinced they know what’s best for the rest of us.

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This is obviously why the Jacinda government was unwilling to hold a referendum on the issue; they knew it would fail. So in their typical arrogance, they used ‘Aotearoa’ anyway. For that reason we ceased any reference to it. —Eds