Andrew Dickens: Is it time to change New Zealand's name?

Andrew Dickens ,
Publish Date
Thursday, 7 February 2019, 12:35p.m.
'The shirts looked great. I liked it. I wondered if NZ Cricket was brave enough to have the same shirts for the rest of the season, which they're not.' Photo / Photosport

What a lovely Waitangi day. We spent the morning at the beach. Had a meal at a café and fell asleep in the afternoon. Then fired up the barbecue and sat down to watch the cricket in Wellington.

It was a bit of a surprise to see everyone rugged up like it was autumn, but I’m sure the cool change was welcome, particularly in Nelson where two terrible fires were raging. Perhaps not so much at the Phil Collins concert in Hawkes Bay!

It was a lovely night of cricket watching as both the men and women’s cricket teams took good revenge against the Indians.

It was particularly pleasing to watch the women. The White Ferns posted a good enough 159 for four. But the Indians at the 12th over were cruising at 102 for one. We’d given up watching and were cooking in the kitchen, listening to the radio and then the collapse happened and it was riveting. The final nine wickets falling for just 34 runs.

We’d rushed back to the TV. The crowd was in good voice. What a good thing for women’s sport. Sharing a big stage they showed that drama is drama, no matter who’s playing.

Then the men came and completely conquered.  Seifert’s great opening knock. Given a surprise place at the top of the innings because of Guptill’s back injury he took the chance with both hands scoring 84 runs off 43 balls, featuring six sixes. Roy of the Rovers stuff and now he’s in fine contention for this year's world cup.

The Black Caps went on to set a stadium record then skittled the Indians with Tim Southee, in particular, looking sharp.

The whole time they were playing in a shirt that said Aotearoa. Both the White Ferns and the Black Caps had swapped out New Zealand for Aotearoa on the front of their shirts in commemoration of Waitangi Day.  This had passed me by during the week and so I was taken by surprise.  Apparently, it’s not the first time this has happened, they did during an ODI series against Zimbabwe in 2015

The shirts looked great. I liked it. I wondered if NZ Cricket was brave enough to have the same shirts for the rest of the season, which they’re not. 

The shirts led to a conversation about why we’re called New Zealand from the boys, which horrified me to be fair. So I told them about Abel Tasman arriving in 1642 and naming us after a province in the Netherlands. It was priceless to see their faces and hear them asking what on earth Zealand has to do with us. It’s a fair point. It’s also a fair point that Simon Bridges made at Waitangi that we need more New Zealand history taught at schools.

I told them I have some radical friends who reckon that within 10 to 20 years we’ll be called Aotearoa. That didn’t worry them but they said it would be sad to lose New Zealand as it was all they had ever known.

Now I’m not going to suggest that we start changing the name of the country.  Anyone who lived through hosting talkback during the flag debate knows that’s never going to win friends or influence people.

But I am going to say that when you step aside from your own personal history with the country and the flag, and you look at the reasons we made the decisions to be called New Zealand with a particular flag you realise that it’s bonkers in 2018. With a new generation coming up that is not as attached to these traditions and history, then perhaps my radical friends are right.