Naming New Zealand’s places and features preserves our culture and heritage, and builds a common understanding of ‘where’.

Historic image showing Māori names and their geographic features

Image source: NZMS 346/2 Crown Copyright Reserved Source, under LINZ copyright.

Place names help us find where we are and where we want to be whether on land or undersea, and are particularly important for emergency services and maritime safety. Place names are also important landmarks of the history, culture and identity of our nation and the communities within it.

The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, which is New Zealand’s place naming authority responsible for making place names official, is an independent statutory board that LINZ provides administrative services for.

The Board can assign, approve, alter, adopt, validate, concur with or discontinue the names of geographic and undersea features, and Crown protected areas in New Zealand, its offshore islands and continental shelf, and the Ross Dependency of Antarctica. We don’t name roads, tracks, buildings, monuments, businesses or sites of interest.

Anyone can make a proposal for a new name or to change an existing name. Guided by good naming practice, the Board considers name proposals on a case by case basis. To make informed decisions we encourage consultation with interested parties such as iwi, and local councils and communities. We also investigate and research name proposals to check for correct spelling and historical accuracy.

The Board maintains the New Zealand Gazetteer, which lists all official place names within its jurisdiction, including where they’re located, as well as a large number of recorded and collected place names.

Last Updated: 26 August 2020