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Thursday 7 March 2019

Farewell to the Cook Islands?

The Pacific nation of the Cook Islands is considering dumping ts name and replacing it with something that better reflects its Polynesian culture, Travel Mole reports.

The Cook Islands, which has a population of just 17,500, was named after British explorer Captain James Cook in 1835, sixty years after he arrived there.

The islands, which are 2,000 miles north-east of New Zealand, were a British protectorate from 1888 until 1900 before becoming part of New Zealand. They are now self-governing, but have close ties to New Zealand.

More Cook Islanders live in New Zealand than in the capital Rarotonga.

Previous attempts to change the name have been unsuccessful. In 1994, a referendum to change the name to Avaiki Nui was defeated.

But the latest move is the first time people from all 12 inhabited islands have had a say.

A committee has been set to find a new indigenous name to reflect its culture and 60 proposed names have been submitted by the public. Favourites include Rangiaroa, meaning Love from the Heavens, and Raroatua, which translates as We Stand Under God.

The original idea was to have an indigenous name featuring alongside the existing Cook Islands name, but committee chairman Danny Mataroa said this week that there is a lot of support for dropping the Cook reference altogether in favour of one in the local language.

He said: "When the committee members, which include Cook Islands historians and people with deep traditional knowledge, met we decided it was time we change the name of the country."

He added the new name "must be easy to say".

Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown told Radio New Zealand: "I'm quite happy to look at a traditional name for our country which more reflects the true Polynesian nature of our island nation."

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