Kōrero: Place names

Whārangi 8. Omissions and minor influences

Ngā whakaahua me ngā rauemi katoa o tēnei kōrero


A century after New Zealand women gained the vote a small street opposite the Parliament buildings was renamed Kate Sheppard Place after the New Zealand suffrage campaigner. However women’s names feature very little, with most being accounted for by Queen Victoria and other British royalty.

American influence

New Zealand was colonised around the same time as the American West, but New Zealand towns were not named as systematically as US towns – there are few numbered streets or avenues, though Tauranga has avenues numbered up to 23. Brooklyn, Wellington is named after that part of New York City, with many of its streets named for US presidents.

A scattering of Kennedys appeared after John F. Kennedy’s assassination in 1963. There is John F. Kennedy Drive in Palmerston North, which also has an Andrew Young Street (after the Mayor of Atlanta). The road names Republican, Democrat and Yankee in Rerewhakaaitu, near Rotorua, record Second World War training by US forces in New Zealand.

Quirky names

Whisky Way is off Moonshine Valley Road near Palmerston North. It is said that Nonoti, near Cheviot in Canterbury, received its name when a politician asked to name the locality declined modestly ‘No, not I.’ Wellsford is reputedly an acronym of the first letters of early settler surnames.

Other countries

There is very little Australian influence – few sets of Sydney, Melbourne or Brisbane streets, or suburbs. And there is virtually nothing to suggest the impact of migration and settlement from the Pacific or Asia – no Apia or Avarua, no Seoul, Shanghai or Singapore.

Indian names, such as Khandallah in Wellington and Cashmere (Kashmir) in Christchurch, reflect British imperial connections rather than the influence of Indians. Khandallah also has Indian names in its streets.

Me pēnei te tohu i te whārangi:

Malcolm McKinnon, 'Place names - Omissions and minor influences', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/mi/place-names/page-8 (accessed 24 April 2024)

He kōrero nā Malcolm McKinnon, i tāngia i te 24 Nov 2008