Proposing names in New Zealand and its offshore islands

Find out how to propose names for geographic features and places in New Zealand and its offshore islands to the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB).

Proposing names in New Zealand and its offshore islands

You can propose a name for geographic features and places in New Zealand and its offshore islands. You can name features like mountains, streams, bays, oceans, forests, lakes and glaciers. You can also propose names for manmade features like railways, railway stations, cities, towns, villages, sites, areas or similar places, and localities and suburbs.

How to make a name proposal

Follow these steps:

  1. Check if the place or feature already has a name. The New Zealand Gazetteer lists all official and unofficial (in particular recorded) names in New Zealand and its offshore islands. Also check the proposals that are currently open for public submissions or that the NZGB has recently considered.​​
  2. Check the NZGB’s rules, guidelines and policies about what features can be named, and who or what they can be named after. You need to include the checklist of required information with your proposal.​
  3. Complete the proposal form using the guidance notes to help.​
  4. Include a map and/or chart showing the exact location of the feature and its boundaries if it has any.
  5. Provide as much information as possible to explain and support your proposal. Include evidence like the history, origin and meaning of the name and its connection to the feature. Research material, photos and references are also helpful.​
  6. Be sure to include any written evidence of support or the views of the people you consult with. Oral evidence or histories are important, especially for Māori place names. Consult with others who may have an interest in your proposal, for example:
  7. Post or email your proposal to the NZGB. (Note: the NZGB doesn’t return proposals and supporting information).
    Contact details of the NZGB

Protecting your privacy

Generally, your personal name will appear if the NZGB publishes information about your place name proposal. Once the NZGB receives your proposal it becomes a public record so may be released under Official Information Act requests. Your contact details will not be released without your consent.

See the Official Information Act 1982

What happens to your name proposal?

The NZGB follows a set process when considering place name proposals. It’s a process that ensures the NZGB takes into account the views of affected people and groups.

  • Once your proposal is received, if your have provided all of the supporting information, the Secretariat investigates and researches it, and carries out any further consultation that might be needed.
  • The NZGB follows its Protocol for Māori place names (PDF 90.78 KB).
  • The NZGB’s Secretariat provides a comprehensive report with recommendations for the NZGB to consider at its next meeting.
  • The NZGB considers the proposal and recommendations, weighing them against the NZGB Act 2008 and the NZGB’s naming rules and policies.
    Read the NZGB Act 2008
    Find out about the NZGB's naming rules and polices
  • If the NZGB accepts your proposal, it advertises the proposed name, asking for submissions. Anyone, including you the proposer, can make a submission within the advertised timeframe objecting to or supporting the name. Submission periods are never less than one month and can be three months or longer.

What happens to submissions on your name proposal?

  • The NZGB considers all of the submissions it receives. If there are no submissions or only supporting submissions then the NZGB makes the final decision to make the proposed name official.
  • If the NZGB doesn’t agree with submissions objecting to the name, then the Minister for Land Information makes the final decision.
  • Once a name becomes official, the NZGB publishes it in the New Zealand Gazette, advertises it in newspapers or circulates it electronically and enters it into the New Zealand Gazetteer.
    Search the New Zealand Gazette
    Access the New Zealand Gazetteer
Last Updated: 20 November 2017