Information for councils and mana whenua about approving unofficial place names as official.

On this page

Thousands of place names throughout New Zealand are not official, even though most have been shown on maps and charts for many years. Making place names official is important as it means there is one agreed and correct name for a place. This is especially important for identifying where you are in an emergency and to recognise New Zealand’s unique culture and heritage.

Approval programme

We use a fast-track approval process to make recorded (unofficial) place names official when:

  1. there is no other name for that place or feature on a map or chart, or in a database that we consider to be authoritative, and
  2. there is no other Māori name for that place or feature as advised by tangata whenua, and
  3. we consider it unlikely that the public would object.

A recorded (unofficial) place name is one that has been used in at least two available publications or databases that we have agreed are authoritative.

Our programme for this approval process is divided into regions meaning hundreds of recorded place names will be made official at a time.

We plan to complete this programme by the end of 2026.

Consultation

The approval process doesn’t require public consultation. However, we will consult with councils and the relevant mana whenua in each region. We will also get expert advice from a licensed te reo Māori translator about the standard conventions for writing Māori place names, for example, spelling and macron use.

Following our initial contact, we will provide each council and mana whenua in a region with:

  • an interactive map, GIS files and/or excel files for their jurisdiction/rohe
  • advice from a licensed te reo Māori translator on the spelling of the Māori place names
  • the timeframe for a response
  • our reasons for making recorded place names official.

Councils and mana whenua are asked to provide us with:

  • any concerns, such as incorrect spelling, or other known names for the places or features
  • confirmation the recorded place names  can be approved as official
  • any history, origin, or meaning they wish to provide. 

Councils and mana whenua should respond with any issues within the set timeframe. If there is no response, we will proceed to make the recorded place names official. Noting that once a name has been made official it could still be corrected or changed through another process.

If we are made aware of issues with a recorded place name, it will be removed from the approval process and remain as an unofficial recorded name. It will not be discontinued or deleted. 

We expect that each region will be completed within six months.

Corrections to official place names

As part of the programme, we will review the spelling of existing official Māori place names for correctness, to ensure they remain consistent with any newly approved names.

If a name made official through this process needs to be corrected, we can publish an amendment in the New Zealand Gazette or a formal proposal can be made, which would be publicly consulted on.

Proposing a place name

The programme’s timeline

Find out when we will be considering the place names in your region.

Please note that the timeline and the numbers of recorded place names for each region are indicative and may be amended from time to time as:

  • they are made official
  • timelines are re-forecast
  • additional recorded place names are added.

Council name 

Date of completion 

Ashburton District Council (298 names) 

2025 

Auckland Council (1405 names) 

2021/22 

Buller District Council (697 names) 

2025 

Central Hawke's Bay District Council (163 names) 

2021/22 

Central Otago District Council (686 names) 

2026 

Chatham Islands Council (10 names) 

2026 

Christchurch City Council (236 names) 

2025 

Clutha District Council (512 names) 

2026 

Dunedin City Council (471 names) 

2026 

Far North District Council (1804 names) 

2023 

Gisborne District Council (1057 names) 

2020/21 

Gore District Council (63 names) 

2026 

Grey District Council (530 names) 

2025 

Hamilton City Council (43 names) 

2024 

Hastings District Council (393 names) 

2021/22 

Hauraki District Council (164 names) 

2024 

Horowhenua District Council (96 names) 

2023 

Hurunui District Council (638 names) 

2025 

Invercargill City Council (70 names) 

2026 

Kaikoura District Council (234 names) 

2025 

Kaipara District Council (335 names) 

2023 

Karewau District Council (0 names) 

2022/23 

Mackenzie District Council (519 names) 

2025 

Manawatu District Council (167 names) 

2023 

Marlborough District Council (1146 names) 

2020/21 

Matamata-Piako District Council (139 names) 

2024 

Napier City Council (31 names) 

2021/22 

New Plymouth District Council (331 names) 

2022/23 

Offshore Islands (Department of Conservation) (220 names) 

2020/21 

Ōpōtiki District Council (370 names) 

2022/23 

Ōtorohanga District Council (310 names) 

2024 

Palmerston North District Council (25 names) 

2023 

Queenstown-Lakes District Council (992 names) 

2026 

Rangitikei District Council (451 names) 

2023 

Rotorua District Council (357 names) 

2022/23 

Ruapehu District Council (785 names) 

2023 

Selwyn District Council (449 names) 

2025 

South Taranaki District Council (302 names) 

2022/23 

South Waikato District Council (106 names) 

2024 

Southland District Council (2148 names) 

2026 

Stratford District Council (219 names) 

2022/23 

Tararua District Council (351 names) 

2023 

Tasman District Council (539 names) 

2020/21 

Taupo District Council (633 names) 

2024 

Tauranga City Council (50 names) 

2022/23 

Thames-Coromandel District Council (648 names) 

2024 

Timaru District Council (189 names) 

2025 

Waikato District Council (561 names) 

2024 

Waimakarai District Council (114 names) 

2025 

Waimate District Council (117 names) 

2025 

Waipa District Council (150 names) 

2024 

Wairoa District Council (546 

2021/22 

Waitaki District Council (500 names)  

2025 

Waitomo District Council (418 names) 

2024 

Western Bay of Plenty District Council (207 names) 

2022/23 

Westland District Council (2876 names) 

2025 

Whakatane District Council (919 names) 

2022/23 

Whanganui District Council (301 names) 

2023 

Whangarei District Council (521 names) 

2023 

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