Trézanah Monga-MacCauley: The debate over new Maori name

Wednesday February 12, 2020 Published in Letters to the Editor

The points arguing to keep the name are insignificant. “Too much time and money” is an insignificant expense for a long-term gain.


Yes, there are other important areas that the government also needs to be focusing on such as health care and the justice system, but re-claiming our identity by renaming our nation is definitely a step in doing so.

To reiterate, why does one like being called a “Cook Islander”? What does James Cook, who the nation is named after, mean to you, for you to carry his name as your national identity? Is he your tūpuna? What did he do for you, your family, and your ancestors? Absolutely nothing.

So why do we think that identifying ourselves as “Cook Islanders” or the Māori equivalent is a thing to be proud of?

Why not have a name that acknowledges the beauty and uniqueness of all 15 islands collectively and individually?

The moment we begin to recognise that our history was made by our tūpuna, who respected the heavens, the earth, and the sea – and not by some European colonialist who recorded us as savages, is when we can move and grow as an indigenous people.

Decolonise your mind and dismantle the system.

Trézanah Monga-MacCauley


What a disappointment to read Monday’s (February 10, 2020) front page about traditional leaders claiming that Atea means God. They even raved on about their fabricated new meaning for the word.


Atea means distance. Maungatea definitely doesn’t mean God’s mountain. The “tea” at the end is for the whitewashed looking rock face of Maungatea.   

Maori name for Cook Islands decided by traditional leaders who don’t even understand fully the Maori language?

When every Cook Islander know how to speak Maori fluently then perhaps it makes sense to have a Maori name for our country.

Until then, let’s waste our energy on more important issues, e.g., the ongoing nightmares in regards to our lands that the traditional leaders should be jumping up and down about.

Te Akaroa. Manuia.

Ellena Tavioni.


For the first time, I’ve heard what this word Atea means.

I thought Atea is wide or vast; rangiatea meaning vast sky, moana atea – vast ocean, and as to maungatea, tea being white meaning white mountain.

The only word we know that means God is Atua or Atu. That’s it.

I am not going to refer Atua as Atea. I am a proud Cook Islander, Kuki Airani and prefer name to be left as it is.

Tena te angaanga e akameitaki i te ora’anga (health) o te iti tangata, te aranui, tetai pai meitaki no te pa enua Tokerau etc, akaruke ua i te ingoa ta to tatou ui tipuna i akatika e ko te reira.

We are wellknown by this name.

Ngavaine John



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