Smiling as benignly as she can, National Party leader Judith Collins says she is "very happy" calling the country Aotearoa and is personally relaxed about the name. Despite that, she says there should be a referendum on the name.
The referendum idea has been proposed by National MP for Kaikōura Stuart Smith and, given the leader's response, we can safely surmise it has been sanctioned by the National caucus.
One can only hope this is the low point in the National Party's ill-conceived and poorly delivered strategy to call the Government to account.
The most regrettable episode in Sir John Key's tenure as Prime Minister, as admitted by none other than himself, was his failed referendum on changing the flag. To call for a referendum on the name of the country not only smacks of borrowing an idea, but also of borrowing a very bad one.
In trying to summon support for this, Collins has claimed the Government and, specifically, the Prime Minister have been switching the name from New Zealand to Aotearoa "by stealth".
It is a matter of record Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has expressed her personal view that she would not like the name changed. If Collins knows this, she must be stating otherwise to make some sort of point.
That point is laid out in the "demand the debate" campaign, which posits that the Government is making sweeping changes without telling the public - and the National Party is standing up against this.
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Collins has said the Government is planning separate Māori governance in areas beyond the new proposed Māori Health Authority. Her calling this out highlights National's one-law-for-all approach to governance.
There may well be evidence of this in reforms the Government has announced while using its electoral mandate to attempt "transformational" changes to health and infrastructure, among other sectors.
But the name of the nation so isn't evidence of "separatism by stealth" that it is astonishing that anyone could claim it.
New Zealanders have been carrying passports with the word "Aotearoa" embossed on the cover since 2008. Collins herself used the word many times in speeches as a Cabinet minister in previous governments.
The history of the name Aotearoa is a long one. The evocative Māori descriptor has, over time, taken a place in our conversation as another sobriquet, often informally, just as we sometimes call ourselves Kiwis rather than New Zealanders. Should we have a referendum on calling ourselves Kiwis?
What a peculiar bind we would be in if the Government were to call the Opposition's bluff and schedule a referendum. How would National's core support base react to the name being forced to change because the party bayed for the referendum? Given current polling, there's no guarantee a National-led campaign against a name change would be any more successful than Key's crusade to change the flag.
Collins and her party are well out on a limb on this debate and should promptly find another campaign to run up the flagpole.