Proposed Name Change

Otorohanga or Ōtorohanga?

Ngāti Maniapoto have made an application to the New Zealand Geographical Board (NZGB) to change the name of the “Otorohanga District” to “Ōtorohanga District”. As this change would also effectively change the name of the “Otorohanga District Council” to the “Ōtorohanga District Council” we have been approached by the Office of Treaty Settlements to ask if we support the name change and we want to know what your thoughts are.

What is the history, origin and meaning of the name Ōtorohanga?

Respected local knowledge sources of Ōtorohanga and local iwi representatives consented the inclusion of a macron for the place name “Ōtorohanga” which was referenced to the extension of land and waterways. The stories’ shared and written literature justifies the use of a macron for “Ōtorohanga”.

A publication by Tom Roa (Ko te torohanga o ngā ringa) has Taarewaanga elders saying that it was given this name because it was such a welcoming place – as if its ‘hands’ are stretched out in greeting (‘te torohanga o ngā ringa’), full of food (ō) to feed them. Another story asserts that a certain tohunga from Ngāti Tūwharetoa returning home to Taupō, through prayer, stretched (torohanga) his provisions (ō) here. Yet a third states that it was here that ... Tāwhaio indicated by stretching out his hands (ō Torohanga) that ... Tūrongo ... would inhabit the inland and southern areas, and his other son Whatihua ..., the seaward and northern areas.

The proposed name change has been reviewed by a respected Maori translator who agrees with the translation from the oral language to the written, to include a macron for Otorohanga making it Ōtorohanga. The macron above the “Ō” in Ōtorohanga indicates a long sounding vowel (“o”) which is the correct pronunciation of Otorohanga.

What is the process a name change goes through?

When a new place name proposal is received, the NZGB Secretariat assesses it for completeness, before it will be processed. This includes ensuring that consultation with affected people, including the local community and iwi, has occurred. Without these minimum requirements, the NZGB will not have the necessary information to make a decision on the proposal.

The application for the name change would proceed through the same process as the recent request to rename a section of the North Island Main Trunk Railway did. This application went to the Geographical Board in July of this year and is now out for public consultation. The NZGB approved 3 months of public consultation and this consultation started a couple of weeks ago.

Details are here;

For more information on the NZGB process for considering name changes please read this [PDF, 693 KB].

Tell us what you think? Any questions?

As members of our community we would like to know what you think or if you have any questions we would like to be able to answer them. You can do this by emailing us