10 Oct 2011

Sir Geoffrey Henry welcomes call for Cook Islands name change

4:26 am on 10 October 2011

A former Prime Minister of the Cook Islands, Sir Geoffrey Henry, has welcomed a call by a Rarotongan resident to change the Maori name of the Cook Islands.

The Cook Islands farmer and entertainer, Danny Mataroa, suggests replacing the transliterated name, Kuki Airani, with Mataariki.

In 1994, Sir Geoffrey approved a referendum to change the Maori name, while retaining the English name.

"Captain Cook was an extraordinary seafarer, and so were our ancestors. So why should we remember one extraordinary seafarer and not give due recognition to the many others that roamed the Pacific hundreds of years before he turned up?"

The majority of Cook Islanders who voted in the referendum rejected the name change.

Sir Geoffrey says in hindsight it would have been better to leave the renaming up to the high chiefs of the House of Ariki alongside the Ministry of Cultural Development.