Darren Tierney/Getty Images
Stacey Leasca
Updated March 06, 2019

The Cook Islands are a small slice of paradise located just south of French Polynesia. Everything there — from its white sandy beaches to the crystal blue waters — is perfect. Except for one thing: The name.

Residents of The Cook Islands are looking to change the island chain’s name as its current moniker pays homage to Captain James Cook. The residents, CNN explained, want a name honoring their own Maori heritage instead.

Now, a committee convened by paramount chief Pa Marie Ariki, has received government support for a potential change, CNN reported.

“I'm quite happy to look at a traditional name for our country which more reflects the true Polynesian nature of our island nation,” Cook Islands Deputy Prime Minister Mark Brown additionally told Radio NZ.

As an example of change, Chief Ariki explained that neighboring New Zealand also goes by the official Maori name of Aotearoa. This, he said, could act as a model for their own change.

So far, Radio NZ reported, the committee has already looked at nearly 60 possible new names, which all came from public submissions. The committee hopes to narrow down the potential list of new names by April. At that time, the names will be passed on to government officials for further review.

This isn’t the first time the islands have attempted to change their name. As CNN reported, there was a similar push in the 1990s to change the colonial moniker, but the effort fell short and the majority of voters choose to keep the Cook Island name rather than pick a new one.

“This is the first time we've actually gone this far,” the committee's chair, Danny Mataroa, told Radio NZ. According to Mataroa, the committee is weighing each possible name against a few factors. The name must incorporate several elements like Christianity, Maori heritage and national pride, Radio NZ explained. Mataroa added: “It must also must be easy to say.”

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