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Videos about place names of Aotearoa

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The significance of Māori place names

Shane Te Ruki explores how and why places and land features were given particular names. What is the value of place naming and how do names connect people to the whenua. How can names teach us more about who we are?

  • Shane is tangata whenua. How does he describe what that means?

  • What are some of the reasons Māori gave places particular names?

  • What is the relationship between place names and maps?

The journeys of Kahurere remembered in place names

Who was Kahurere? Why did she leave her home on the shores of Kāwhia Harbour and travel inland? And what do her travels have to do with the names of certain features around Te Awamutu?

  • What does Pirongia-te-aroaro-o-Kahurere Mean?

  • What does Kahurere call out to her travelling companions as she is running towards the river?

  • What does Kakepuku-te-rerenga-o Kahu mean?

Battle of the maunga

When the young male maunga, Kakepuku, came across the beautiful female maunga, Te Kawa, he decided to stay and win her affection. But there were three other male maunga to get past first...

  • Why did mountains move at night?

  • What was the outcome of the battle?

  • How do Kakepuku and Te Kawa show their affection for one another?

Restoring Māori place names

Listen to a kōrero about Shane Te Ruki's view on restoring original place names. He shares some thoughtful ideas about how certain place names are more appropriate for connecting us to the whenua and affirming our identity, whereas others are somewhat meaningless.

  • Continue the conversation. Identify a place name in your rohe that has an English name in place of a known original Māori name. Do you know the origin and meaning of these names? Which name do you think should be the one used, for example, on a map? Why do you think this?

Search for place names online using the Gazetteer

Wendy from Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand shows how to use the New Zealand Gazetteer, an online New Zealand place name search tool.

  • What sort of details will you see in the 'search result'?

  • Try the 'Measure distances and areas' function near the bottom left of the map image.

  • Search for place names near you to discover any history, origin or meaning behind the names.

Search for geographic features in Māori and English online

Wendy from Toitū Te Whenua Land Information New Zealand explains how to search for images and descriptions of New Zealand’s geographic features.

  • Why is there an emphasis on Māori geographic terms in this search tool?

  • What does clicking on the orange boxes above the images give you?

  • Have a go at using the Geographic Features web page - https://geographicfeatures.linz.govt.nz/.

Resources to help you discover more about Māori place names

Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa New Zealand Geographic Board has published some Tangata Whenua maps of Te Ika-a-Māui North Island and Te Waipounamu South Island showing original Māori place names.

  • About how many original Māori place names are shown on each map?

  • What is on the back of each map?

  • What would you read about in the book A Māori Oral History Atlas?