I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (the Board) for the year ending 30 June 2017. This Annual Report sets out the performance of the Board against its role, functions and goals.
Unique, usable and standardised geographic names are key to locating people and places. They contribute to efficient communication and government administration, and they enable the linking of data for a wide range of public and private purposes.
Geographic names also have historical, cultural and linguistic significance. They reflect the cultural diversity of people past and present, recording New Zealand’s history and the stories of the people who have lived here. They express identity and assert rights. They give context to space, helping us to navigate from one place to another, linking stories associated with places and reviving or adding to our knowledge of the heritage and events that occurred at a place. Capturing these qualities in a single geographic name can be a challenge.
The Board is New Zealand’s national geographic naming authority, with responsibility for ensuring standardised, consistent and accurate naming. I am pleased with the Board’s progress towards its two fundamental goals of location identification, and preservation of culture and heritage. It considers these goals, which are sometimes competing, and weighs up what is best for the direct and indirect economic and social benefit of New Zealand.
2016/17 saw an increase in the Board’s attention to improving our information for Antarctic names – namely positional accuracy and identifying the authority that made them official.
I was pleased to initiate the Board’s review of its policies, principles and practices, which will ultimately simplify consideration of geographic name proposals.
The Board continues to be well supported by a Secretariat within Land Information New Zealand, which ensures that the operational aspects of geographic naming are comprehensively met. The Board’s Secretariat continues to make improvements to its processes.
We worked closely with the Ministry for Women to appoint an aspiring leader under the Institute of Directors’ ‘Future Directors’ programme, welcoming Rachel Pinn in April 2017 for one year. This is not a statutory position, but provides an opportunity for learning and development. The member gains valuable insights into the governance and operation of a statutory board, obtaining skills they can utilise in the future.
The Board considered some contentious geographic name proposals in 2016/17, including changing the three ‘Nigger’ geographic names in north Canterbury, which attracted widespread media attention. The Board’s commitment to considering a wide range of factors in making its decisions, and to balancing the views of both opposing and supporting submitters, is commendable.
I again thank the current Board for its professionalism and dedication. We welcomed two new members in December 2016, Paulette Tamati-Elliffe and Adrienne Staples. They replaced outgoing members Te Maire Tau and Garrick Murfitt, to whom I express my sincere thanks for their contributions.