Aotea comes from the Māori language, also known as Te reo - one of New Zealand’s official languages.
Māori were the first recorded humans to set foot on New Zealand, over 1,000 years ago. In Māori history, Aotea refers to the canoes by which Māori migrated to New Zealand; it is particularly associated with the tribes of Taranaki and Whanganui as well as other groups.
Aotearoa , the word that Aotea stems from, is the Māori name for New Zealand. The original meaning of Aotearoa is not completely known however, the word can be broken up as:
ao (cloud, dawnm daytime, world)
tea (white, clear, bright)
Producing the common translation we see today - long white cloud.