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Wellington City Council look to more accurately reflect Te Reo Māori in place and street names

A Wellington City Council review into Māori place and street names will lead to a better reflection of Te Reo Māori in the capital.

Since the two existing naming policies have been in place for more than 15 years, the city strategy committee highlighted a need for updating it.

The new policy hopes to incorporate te reo into the renaming of places and streets in the city and fix any misspelled Māori names.

Deputy Mayor Jill Day, who is one of the drivers behind Te Taihu and presented the naming policy review paper yesterday, told 1 NEWS the current policies were old and weren't clear as to the process.

Statue of Māori idol on Wellington's Mount Victoria (file picture). Source: istock.com

"We've done the review, a new draft policy has been created and now we are engaging with stakeholders and the community," she said.

"A small number of names will be corrected over time, but this policy is more about new names. Because of our Te Reo Māori Te Tauihu policy we wanted to ensure we had a process in place for how mana whenua and the community can be involved in new parts of our city.

"We want to bring Te Reo Māori to life in Wellington and part of this involves making sure it is seen in our city."

The policy allows people to acknowledge New Zealand's rich Māori heritage but also other names from other cultures to be applied where appropriate, Ms Day said.

The policy is intended to ensure names are appropriate and provide ease of identification; reflect the city’s unique history, identity, culture and environment; and apply a consistent and transparent best practice approach for accurate and efficient administration and communication, it says in the council's latest meeting agenda.

As well, it should support Te Tauihu and reflect wider Government obligations under the Treaty of Waitangi; reflect the importance of the Memoranda of Understanding with Treaty partners Taranaki Whānui ki te Upoko o te Ika and Te Rūnanga o Toa Rangatira; and ensure that the process of determining appropriate names takes account of the views of interested parties and communities, including mana whenua, the meeting agenda states.

The draft policy has been shared with other local councils and with mana whenua, as well as discussions had with the New Zealand Geographic Board (NZGB) - the statutory body which is responsible for place naming in New Zealand. 

Any changes will be covered under business as usual costs or will come from current budgets, Ms Day said. The council already has a budget for replacing signs for various reasons.

"If an English name was misspelled or had a typo we would have it changed in 24 hours. It should be the same with Te Reo Māori and we need to make sure we put things right."

Wellington City Council Deputy Mayor Jill Day. Source: Supplied