EFESydney, Australia

New Zealand's Maori Party launched a petition on Tuesday for the official name of the country to be changed to Aotearoa, the Maori language name.

It also demanded that all towns, cities and places be changed to their indigenous names by 2026.

"It's well past time that Te Reo Maori (Maori language) was restored to its rightful place as the first and official language of this country. We are a Polynesian country – we are Aotearoa," the party said, urging people to support the petition, which will be sent to parliament.

Te reo Maori became an official language of New Zealand in 1987, alongside English.

Aotearoa is commonly used by New Zealanders interchangeably, and widely accepted as meaning "the land of the long white cloud." The name is also used on New Zealand passports.