Since my column on changing the name of our country was published, I have been inundated with correspondence from all over the country and from all kinds of people, National MP for Kaikoura Stuart Smith says.
“The overwhelming reaction to my stance on the matter was incredibly positive from both those who want to retain New Zealand as our name and those who would like it changed to Aotearoa.
“What impacted me the most was the sheer number of people who expressed thanks that I was advocating for New Zealanders to be involved in making this decision. They told me they feel the Labour Government have been arrogant in changing it de facto without any public discussion.
“In my opinion piece I did not argue either for or against a name change. I believe that should not be up to politicians to decide. I argued for a conversation about it.
“Now, having heard from so many Kiwis, I am arguing for more. I say, the Government must put it to a referendum.
“The strength of feeling associated with this subject, no matter the perspective, necessitates that the Government must take it to the people as National did with the flag. Furthermore, Labour must be willing to accept the result as National did when New Zealand voted to retain the flag.
“Surely, Labour must be willing to listen to the people of New Zealand on this. They cannot go on thinking they are more enlightened and know better than the people they govern. They cannot go on demonising those who disagree with them.
“National says listen to the people and put it to a vote. Should we be New Zealand or Aotearoa?”
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