Information for councils and mana whenua about the programme and timelines for approving recorded place names as official using section 24 of the New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Act 2008.
Around 30,000 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, which is especially important in an emergency, and recognises New Zealand’s unique culture and heritage.
The fast track process
Section 24 of the New Zealand Geographic Board Act 2008, known as the fast track process, authorises the Board to use its discretion to make existing recorded (unofficial) place names official when:
- there is no other recorded name for a place or feature on a map or chart, or in a database that the Board considers to be authoritative, and
- the Board considers it unlikely that the public would object.
A recorded place name is one that has been used in at least two publicly available publications or databases that the Board has agreed are authoritative.
A programme to implement this fast track process is divided into the councils by region so that hundreds of existing recorded place names can be made official at a time.
The Board plans to complete this programme by the end of 2026.
The fast track process doesn’t require public consultation. However, the Board will consult with councils and relevant mana whenua in phases. Each phase is expected to take six months. The Board will also get expert advice from a licensed te reo Māori translator about the correct standard conventions for writing the Māori place names, for example, spelling and macron use.
Following initial contact, the Board will provide each council and mana whenua with:
- shape files or excel files for their jurisdiction/rohe
- the advice from the licensed te reo Māori translator on the Māori place names within their jurisdiction/rohe
- timeframe for response
- the Board’s reasons for making recorded place names official.
Councils and mana whenua are asked to provide the Board with:
- any concerns, such as incorrect spelling, or other known names for the places or features
- confirmation of the recorded place names that can be approved as official
- any history/origin/meaning they wish to provide.
Councils and mana whenua should respond with any issues within the timeframe advised by the Board. If there is no response within the timeframe, the Board will make the recorded place names official.
When the Board is made aware of issues with a recorded place name, it will be removed from the fast track process and remain as an unofficial recorded place name. It will not be discontinued or deleted.
Any place name stories provided may be entered in the New Zealand Gazetteer.
Corrections to official place names
Once a place name is made official, if any future corrections are required the Board may publish an amending notice in the NZ Gazette, or the public can make a proposal to the Board – depending on the nature of the change.
The programme and timeline
You can find out here when the Board will be considering the place names in your jurisdiction/rohe.
Please note that the timeline and the numbers of recorded (unofficial) place names are indicative and will be amended from time to time as:
- recorded (unofficial) place names are made official
- timelines are reforecast
- additional recorded (unofficial) place names are included.
The updated programme will be published on this page (see Attachments).