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Deputy Prime Minister Winston Peters has come out swinging at the Māori Party's policy to rename New Zealand Aotearoa, calling it "headline hunting".

In time for Te Wiki o Te Reo Māori, Māori Party candidate for Waiariki, Rawiri Waititi, announced the party's policy for te reo Māori.

The policy announced sets out to ensure New Zealand's name is changed to Aotearoa and that all Pākeha place names, cities and towns will be replaced with their original Māori ingoa (name) by 2026.

But Peters has criticised the policy on Twitter, saying it's a bad move at a time when exports are particularly important.

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"This is plain headline hunting without any regard to the cost to this country," Peters wrote on the social media platform.

"It will make our international marketing brand extraordinarily confusing when exports will be critical to our economic survival."

Peters went on to say the Māori Party was "again rushing down the path of separatism" instead of focusing on jobs, housing, health and education.

Its approach "will be great for the 'Treaty of Waitangi industry' but disastrous for Māori seeking the four fundamentals of housing, education, employment and health".

Illustration / Rod Emmerson
Illustration / Rod Emmerson

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern did not say whether she supported an official name change, but told media at today's 1pm briefing she was seeing "Aotearoa" used more often.

"I hear more and more often the use of Aotearoa interchangeable with New Zealand and that is a positive thing," she said.

"Whether or not we change it in law I don't think changes the fact that New Zealand is increasingly referred to as Aotearoa."

She had not explored an official name change but was encouraged to see people use it more frequently.

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Act Leader David Seymour said now was not the time to argue about a name change.

"I don't care if we call it Timbuktu right now.

"When we're on top of this crisis and the debt it's created, then we can debate the name."

Green Party co-leader Marama Davidson said the party supported a "public korero around the use of Māori place names".

"We're really pleased that Aotearoa is now in common use, including in the official name of our own party, and believe this widespread usage is something to celebrate," she said.

The National Party declined to comment on the policy.

The Māori Party also aims to establish a Māori Standards Authority which will have the legislative power to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards.

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"The Māori Standards Authority will ensure that the mana of te reo Māori me ōna tikanga is upheld across all state sectors. It ensures these public departments are accountable and that they engage in te reo Māori me ōna tikanga in a meaningful way that is enduring rather than the tokenistic approach we see all too often," Waititi said during this morning's announcement.

The policy also guarantees that te reo Māori and Māori history will be made core curriculum subjects up to Year 10 at secondary schools and require all primary schools to incorporate te reo Māori into 25 per cent of their curriculum by 2026 and 50 per cent by 2030.

The Māori Party's policy for te reo Māori:

• Change New Zealand's name to Aotearoa by 2026.

• Replace all Pākeha place names, cities and towns to their original Māori ingoa by 2026.

• Invest $50m into the establishment of a Māori Standards Authority; an in dependent statutory entity whose role will be to audit all public service departments against cultural competency standards, including the monitoring and auditing of language plans.

• Establish Te Marama o te reo Māori.

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• Double Te Mātāwai funding ($28m).

• Remunerate primary and secondary schools and kaiako based on their competency of te reo Māori.

• Ensure that te reo Māori and Māori history are core curriculum subjects up to Year-10 at secondary schools.

• Invest $40M for early childhood to secondary school kaiako to develop their reo.

• Require all primary schools to incorporate te reo Māori into 25 per cent of their curriculum by 2026 and 50 per cent by 2030.

• Invest $20m into the development of te reo Māori resources.

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• Require all state-funded broadcasters (workforce) across all mediums to have a basic fluency level of te reo Māori.

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