One of the largest telecommunications companies in New Zealand has responded to an appeal to use the original name of the country of origin Aotearoa, and to join other companies that have pledged to use more of the Rio language, Maori, or method Protocols – in their daily business operations.
Earlier this week, Vodafone – which employs about 2,000 New Zealanders – confirmed that it had changed its logo on top of users’ phones from “Vodafone NZ” to “VF Aotearoa”. The company gave short notice to those on social media who complained about the change. Competitors supported the move.
This came when DDB Group Aotearoa – a communications agency with 250 employees locally – changed its name from DDB Group New Zealand. The shift came along with efforts to recruit more diverse and funded staff to attend work-time Maori language courses. Both companies were urged by the Ngāti Whātua rākei – a Acid, Or sub-tribe, in Auckland City – to use the word ‘Aotearoa’ individually and collectively.
Indigenous rights advocate Tina Ngata said the move was a “cure” and an act against racism, confirming “the story of the existence of people who lived here before colonialism.”
“[The name] New Zealand is already wiping out whoever was there. “I personally think that when you use the term Aotearoa, it is much more comprehensive.”
Justin Moody of DDB said the company wanted to get involved in “creating a more incubating Aotearoa for Te O Mawori,” meaning the Maori worldview.
Te reo Māori is experiencing a revival in New Zealand – until recent years, there have been fears of its demise altogether – with single words, greetings, or proverbs appearing more clearly in everyday life and long waiting lists for those eager to take lessons. Jacinda Ardern, Prime Minister, hopes to see 1 million New Zealanders speak this language by 2040.
Its renewed popularity sparked a debate over whether place names should be returned to their original surnames before the arrival of European and British colonists. The name New Zealand comes from the Dutch “Nieuw Zeeland” and was given to it by a Dutch cartographer.
Aotearoa is commonly translated as “the land of the tall white cloud.”
When a Vodafone user on Twitter threatened to switch service providers after noticing the change on his phone this week, Vodafone responded that the move was “simply to celebrate one of the three beautiful official languages” in the country (the third is New Zealand Sign Language).
The company added on Twitter: “There are no plans to change it at this stage.”
A competitor, 2Degrees, asked the complainant “kei te pēhea koe” or “How are you?” Before telling the man thatIt is better not to switch to usBecause “love” company[s] Celebrating Te Ryo Maori too! “
Spark is Vodafone’s biggest competitor. Added on Twitter: “Te Reo is a natural part of our country and we will continue to encourage and give tools to those who wish to expand their knowledge and cultural understanding.”
It’s common for companies to use more te reo during the annual Maori Language Week in September, but many give it up after that. Necata said that companies that use the language should follow up by becoming “more inclusive in your corporate policies as well.”
Maori continued to face discrimination, poor health outcomes, and overrepresentation in the justice system compared to Pakiha, or New Zealanders of European descent.