Te Pāti Māori has presented its petition urging Parliament to change New Zealand's official name to Aotearoa.

It was launched during Te Wiki o te Reo Māori last year and had about 70,000 signatures.

Te Pāti Māori co-leader Debbie Ngarewa-Packer said the petition indicated people wanted change.

"There is a new generation of Tangata Whenua and Tangata Tiriti who want to see themselves reflected in our country’s identity."

Co-leader Rawiri Waititi added that the petition was “not about getting rid of anything, or changing who we are”.

“It’s about reinstating the original names of this land and strengthening who we are as a nation,” he said.

"New Zealand is a Dutch name and has no connection to this whenua. How many people in Aotearoa can even point to ‘old’ Zealand on a map?"

Speaking to reporters before Parliament on Thursday, Waititi said it "goes to show there is a growing interest in moving Aotearoa into a more Tiriti-centric space".

National leader Christopher Luxon said the proposed name change is a constitutional issue and constitutional issues should go to referendum.

"You don't just go make those decisions unilaterally.

"Make your case, spend the capital, take it to the New Zealand people, they decide."

However, he believes there won’t be widespread public support for the change.

“I don’t think there’s much appetite for it at all.”

Te Pāti Māori hopes the petition will kickstart the official restoration of the original te reo Māori names for all towns, cities and places by 2026.

Top Image: Te Pāti Māori co-leaders Debbie Ngarewa-Packer and Rawiri Waititi speaking to the press. Photo: Getty Images

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