The functions and jurisdiction of the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB) are defined in sections 10-12 of the New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Act 2008.
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The principal functions of the NZGB are to:
- assign official names
- approve recorded names (unofficial names that have appeared in at least two publicly available authoritative publications or databases)
- alter official or recorded names (by substituting a new name or correcting its spelling)
- discontinue the use of official or recorded names
- investigate and determine the position and extent of a feature whose name is assigned, approved or altered
- review Crown Protected Area name proposals.
The NZGB jurisdiction covers:
- the territorial boundaries of New Zealand (12 nautical miles off the coast)
- offshore islands, including the Kermadec, Chatham, Auckland, Antipodes, Campbell Island / Motu Ihupuku, Snares Islands / Tini Heke, and Bounty Islands
- the continental shelf of New Zealand
- the Ross Dependency of Antarctica (including its continental shelf).
The NZGB can only alter the name of a district or region if the affected local authority requests or consents to the alteration.
In addition to the principal functions, the NZGB may also:
- adopt policies, rules and standards to assist it in carrying out its functions for the spelling and systematic designation of official names
- examine cases of doubtful spelling and determine official spelling appearing on maps and charts
- investigate and determine the priority of discovery of a feature
- collect original Māori names for recording on maps and charts
- encourage the use of original Māori names on maps and charts
- seek advice from Te Taura Whiri I te Reo Māori (Māori Language Commission) on correct orthography of Māori names
- undertake research into proposals to name or alter the name of features
- undertake other functions necessary to enable it to act effectively under the 2008 Act or any other enactment.
The NZGB is not responsible for naming all geographic features and places. The following list identifies some features that are outside the jurisdiction of the NZGB:
- the name of New Zealand
- streets and roads (these are named by the local council)
- highways (Transit New Zealand names highways)
- electorates (these are assigned by the Representation Commission)
- wards (these are assigned by the relevant territorial authority)
- homesteads, light houses, buildings, golf courses etc
- tracks and walkways (these are assigned by either the relevant territorial authority or the Department of Conservation (DOC)).
Some other authorities can propose names to the NZGB, or have their own authority to name:
- Department of Conservation
DOC proposes names to the NZGB for CPAs. It is not mandatory for DOC to propose names for all CPAs, but before names are assigned they need to meet the Board's rules of nomenclature and the consultation requirements.
- Office of Treaty Settlements
Some Māori names of special significance are included as part of the cultural redress component in Treaty of Waitangi claim settlements. The name for any feature or place can be assigned, altered or amended as part of a Treaty settlement because the settlement is formalised in legislation which can override previous NZGB decisions. The NZGB has an advisory role to the Office of Treaty Settlements.
The NZGB must:
- administer the New Zealand Gazetteer of Official Geographic Names
- develop standards for naming Crown Protected Areas (in conjunction with the Minister for Conservation)
- make enquiries and recommendations on matters referred to it by the Minister for Land Information
- carry out any other functions or duties given to it or required by or under the 2008 Act or other enactment.