Assigning official Māori place names provides visible recognition for a claimant group and is often included in the cultural redress component of Treaty of Waitangi claims settlements.

The role of the New Zealand Geographic Board in Treaty settlements

The NZGB New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB) comments on names proposed by claimant groups names through the Te Arawhiti, who negotiate Treaty settlements on behalf of the Crown. The NZGB makes sure that all proposed names meet the NZGB naming policies, principles and guidelines, and makes recommendations to the Te Arawhiti.

Find out more about theNZGBnaming policies, principles and guidelines

The general process for assigning Treaty settlement names, which is outlined in a Relationship Protocol between the Te Arawhiti and the NZGB, is:

  1. Names are proposed during the negotiation stage of Treaty claim settlements, prior to Deed Agreements being signed
  2. Te Arawhiti must provide all of the information in this checklist to the NZGB before it can begin processing a Treaty settlement name
  3. The NZGB makes recommendations to the Te Arawhiti on the proposed names
  4. The Minister forTreaty of Waitangi Negotiations makes the final decision
  5. If agreed, the names are included in Treaty claim settlement legislation
  6. The new or changed official names are published in the New Zealand Gazette, newspapers and the New Zealand Gazetteer to make them official names. 
    Search the New Zealand Gazette
    Access the New Zealand Gazetter

The public is not consulted on Treaty settlement name proposals. However, when a Settlement Bill is processed through Parliament the public has an opportunity to make their views known at the Select Committee stage.

What place names can be included in settlements?

The name of any geographic feature or place can be included as part of a Treaty settlement. However, as place names are part of cultural redress, they are usually limited to areas of special significance to the claimants.

The types of features and places included in Treaty settlements include: natural features such as a mountain, peak, valley, river, stream, lake, glacier or ice feature (including man made features of the same type), an undersea feature, as well as an historic site, area or similar place. However, the names of populated places (towns, cities) must generally go through the NZGB’s full statutory process which includes public consultation.

Once official, a Treaty settlement name, can only be altered in the future with the written consent of the relevant Treaty settlement group.

Last Updated: 9 March 2018