FInd out how to propose a name for an undersea feature such as a seamount, trough, ridge, trench and sea channel on the continental shelves of New Zealand and the Ross Dependency of Antarctica to the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB).

You can propose a name for an undersea feature such as a seamount, trough, ridge, trench and sea channel on the continental shelves of New Zealand and the Ross Dependency of Antarctica.

What area does the New Zealand continental shelf cover?

What area does the Ross Dependency of Antarctica cover?

The NZGB encourages other nations to consult with it before naming undersea features within the NZGB's area of interest and before submitting a proposal to the Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) who are a group of international experts on naming undersea features.

Protocol for undersea feature naming (PDF 883.78 KB)

How to propose an undersea feature name online

Make a proposal for an undersea feature name

How to propose an undersea feature name by post or email

  1. Check if the feature already has a name. The New Zealand Gazetteer lists all official and unofficial (in particular recorded) names in New Zealand, including undersea features. You should also check the GEBCO Undersea Feature Names Gazetteer, an international listing of all undersea feature names.
  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. It’s especially important that you clearly identify the location and extent (if known) of the undersea feature you’re proposing to name. You’re best to do this by identifying the feature on a map or chart with a defined scale, preferably a LINZ hydrographic chart or NIWA bathymetric map. Make sure you include the coordinates or grid reference of the feature.
  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 the characteristics of the feature. Research material, photos and references are also helpful.

    For undersea feature name proposals beyond New Zealand’s 12NM territorial limit please provide:

    • an index map showing the location of the proposal on a regional scale
    • a track line map showing all existing information in the proposal area
    • a bathymetric map showing depth contours that specify the interval contour value, or a bathymetric shaded image with a depth colour legend, or both
    • a 2D bathymetric oriented profile of the feature with an index map showing the location of the profile
    • a 3D terrain model
    • any other important supporting information such as: scientific publications and information on pre-existing published name(s) for the feature, if known

    Where a generic term with genetic implications is proposed, you should also provide geological and/or geophysical evidence as well bathymetric data. Please note that these are not required within New Zealand’s territorial waters.

  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 your proposal or supporting information.)
    Contact details of the NZGB

Protecting your privacy

Generally, your personal name will appear if the NZGB publishes information about your undersea feature 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 undersea feature name proposal

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

For undersea feature name proposals within the 12NM territorial limit

  • 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.
  • 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.

For undersea feature name proposals beyond the 12NM territorial limit

  • The NZGB doesn’t advertise asking for submissions, but it does consult with appropriate national and international naming authorities, before making the name official. It also consults with relevant iwi.

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 Gazetter

Names in international waters

Individual countries have the exclusive right to assign names to undersea features within their territorial sea (for New Zealand this is within 12 nautical miles of the coastline). Beyond a country’s territorial sea, a group of international experts, the General Bathymetric Chart of the Oceans (GEBCO) Sub-Committee on Undersea Feature Names (SCUFN) reviews undersea feature name proposals.

In New Zealand the NZGB makes the initial decision on undersea feature name proposals before submitting them to SCUFN.

Last Updated: 11 January 2022