Read about the use of Māori place names today, tips for researchers and how to find out more about the origins of Māori place names.
You can search for Māori place names in the New Zealand Gazetteer of Place Names. The New Zealand Gazetteer lists all official and unofficial Māori place names, including dual and alternative names.
You may also find it useful to search the Waikato University Index of Māori Names.
The NZGB’s role in promoting the use of Māori place names
The NZGB’s acknowledgement of the historical context of Māori place names is reflected in its Frameworks document as well as recorded in its maps and publications. The NZGB’s Protocol for Māori Place Names guides how the Board collects and encourages the use of Māori place names.
The NZGB has practical guidelines for consulting with iwi and investigating Māori names.
Searching for Māori names in the New Zealand Gazetteer
You can search Māori place names that have macrons in the New Zealand Gazetteer by downloading the data as a simple .csv file. Not all Māori place names in the New Zealand Gazetteer have had their spelling checked for macrons.
Māori Pā names
You can search Māori Pā names in the New Zealand Gazetteer. The Māori Land Court also has records dating from 1862. For issues concerning Māori land and naming you can also contact Te Puni Kōkiri and Te Temu Paeroa (the Māori Trustee). See also NZMS 346/1 and NZMS 346/2.
Treaty of Waitangi settlement names
Some Māori place names can be negotiated through the Treaty of Waitangi claims process to become official place names as part of the settlement.
Dual naming recognises the equal and special significance of both the original Māori and non-Māori names. You must use both names on official documents. The NZGB format is for dual names to be separated by a forward slash with a space either side, eg, Aoraki / Mount Cook. Generally, the Māori name comes first, recognising rights of first discovery.
Alternative names also recognise the special historical and cultural significance of both original Māori and non-Māori names. However, you can use either one or the other on official documents.
Useful websites for researching Māori place names
- Te Aka Māori-English English - Māori Dictionary
- Learning Media - Ngata Dictionary
- National Library of New Zealand
- The Community Archive (National Register of Archives and Manuscripts)
- Te Kāhui Māngai (Directory of Iwi and Māori Organisations)
- Waitangi Tribunal
- Waikato University Index of Māori Names
- Māori Language Commission Place Names Map
- Te Kooti Whenua Māori: Māori Land Court
- Office of Treaty Settlements
- New Zealand History – 1000 Māori Place Names
- Ngā Ingoa o Aotearoa: An Oral Dictionary of Māori Placenames
- Te Puni Kōkiri
- Te Tumu Paeroa