The Māori Party is committed to ensuring te reo Māori is "a language for all of Aotearoa".
And to do that, it wants to implement strategies for different sectors such as education and broadcasting, and changing "New Zealand" to "Aotearoa".
Waiariki candidate Rawiri Waititi said it was "a pou in the ground" when he made the commitment as part of his multi-policy announcement at Brookfield Primary School in Tauranga and Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Koutu in Rotorua on Monday.
The Māori Party set a deadline of 2026 for the country's name change, along with all Pākehā place names, cities and towns being replaced with their original Māori ingoa (name).
Waititi said it would strictly be Aotearoa, not Aotearoa New Zealand.
"It's time that Aotearoa is the official name for this country, and that our children know that they're growing up in Aotearoa, which is a Pacific nation, it's not a European nation."
He said there were many examples of countries changing their names across the globe and he did not believe it would be a challenge for the rest of the world to keep up and acknowledge New Zealand's new name.
"What we want is a truly bilingual country. We want te reo Māori to take its rightful place as the indigenous language of Aotearoa."
The policy also guarantees te reo Māori and Māori history will be made core curriculum subjects up to Year 10 at secondary school 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.
"We're going to open the door and allow [people] safe access to our language to ensure that Aotearoa is a truly bilingual country."
Tauranga election candidates share visions, and jibes, at debate
Samantha Motion: Five weeks to the election - here's who I think will win in the Bay
Māori Party wants NZ renamed Aotearoa, all cities to take Māori names by 2026
But Bay of Plenty National Party MP Todd Muller said he strongly disagreed with the party's policy.
"In my view the best way of lifting all our community's comfort with te reo and in particular Māori names for our English place names is by adding them to the English not replacing them," Muller said.
"I love that we are Aotearoa but I also love deeply that we are New Zealand. We are both, we need not be one or the other."
Te Arawa kaumatua Sir Toby Curtis did not believe changing the country's name to Aotearoa would help accelerate the use of te reo Māori and feared it would go against the channel of "positive approach" which he believed was the current method.
"Aotearoa is being used quite easily and readily."
Curtis referenced the rugby competition, Super Rugby Aotearoa as an example.
"Things are happening and our job should be to acknowledge that and really praise the direction in which people are becoming more bilingual in their thinking."
However, he did believe in the core curriculum part of the policy.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick said she supported the wider and everyday use and learning of te reo Māori.
"There seems to be increasing use and acceptance of the use of 'Aotearoa New Zealand' or vice versa so I think it is an interesting proposal and a great conversation for our country to have."
Waiariki Labour MP Tamati Coffey said he was a strong supporter of exploring policies that looked to secure the future of te reo Māori, but believed his party was making the most of its opportunity already.
"These ideas would've been fantastic to explore in the nine years that the Māori Party actually had the chance to do something during the time they were in bed with National."
He said more than $400 million was put into Māori education initiatives in Budget 2020 and more than 1000 people within the education workforce had been though the Te Ahu O Te Reo Māori programme, which came from the promise to teach New Zealand history in all schools and kura by 2022.
"In terms of teaching te reo to our kids, this initiative addresses the reality that we need to build the numbers of staff with a proper awareness of the correct and proper use of te reo, so we can be reassured that they are safe hands with which to pass on this taonga in our classrooms."
Coffey said 7000 kaiako (teachers) would be involved in the initiative next year, as the Government built its capability towards every child having te reo Māori in their learning by 2025.
Ngāi Te Rangi Settlement Trust chairman Charlie Tawhiao said it was unfortunate the Māori Party's policy had to be a policy.
"I think that it is a positive move in the right direction. Why is it even an issue, is the real question it raises for me."
As a te reo Māori supporter, he suspected objection would come because people were not in love with te reo Māori being lifted to its "rightful place" not because they weren't in love with the idea of New Zealand as a name.
"It is moving that way naturally and the worry I have about forcing it is you build resistance rather than building support."
Tawhiao believed there was great room for growth in the school curriculum and if the policy was implemented it would result in less controversy when the same conversation was being had by future generations.
"Unless there is somebody actually out there pushing it, waiting for it to happen on its own is going to take too long.
"So I think the Māori Party has made a good move here by actually pushing it as an issue knowing that it's going to attract negative comment, but knowing that if you don't say it, then it doesn't actually happen."
He said he was encouraged by elements of the policy happening on its own.
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 independent 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.
• 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.
• Require all state-funded broadcasters (workforce) across all mediums to have a basic fluency level of te reo Māori.