Change to correct Te Reo spelling for river

  • Hon Eugenie Sage
Land Information

The Waitangitaona River on the South Island’s West Coast will have one name but it will be spelt correctly under a decision made by Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage.

Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio proposed to the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB) in July 2017 that river be given two names: Waitangitāhuna River downstream from Whataroa and Waitakitahuna-ki-te-Toka upstream, after the original river split in two in a flood in 1967.  After public consultation, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio changed its proposal to give both sections of the river the name Waitangitāhuna River.

The Minister decided to go with a single name with the corrected the spelling so the Waitangitāhuna River is now the official place name for a river that flows northwards from Tatare Range into the Tasman Sea. Evidence shows the misspelling came into use in the mid-19th century.

Another change was to make John Creek the official place name for a small village on the southern shores of Lake Hāwea, and for a stream which runs through the village into the lake. 

These name changes follow a proposal made to the NZGB from a local historian in January 2017. John Creek has been commonly used by residents as the name for the small village for many years, despite it being shown as Gladstone on topographic maps for the area. Gladstone was the intended name for a town, planned to be built close by, which never eventuated.

The name change will reduce confusion arising for postal services, tourists, and emergency responders, due to the inconsistency between maps and common usage.

The John Creek (stream) has, until now, been known as Johns Creek. The decision to change the name to the non-possessive ‘John’ is made in the interests of consistency with the now official name for the village. Both place names recognise the John family who were early European settlers in the area.  

Further information:

The proposal and submissions regarding the Waitangitāhuna River is available here.

For John Creek it’s here.