Dual name for Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay

  • Hon Eugenie Sage
Land Information

Poverty Bay’s name is richer with the inclusion of Te Reo in the new name of “Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay” Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage announced today.

“Tūranganui-a-Kiwa / Poverty Bay” applies only to the bay enclosed by Young Nick’s Head (Te Kuri) and Tuaheni Point, in accordance with the original request by Gisborne District Council.  It does not apply to the wider landscape and region often referred to as Poverty Bay, nor to Gisborne or any other area. The name “Tūranganui-a-Kiwa” can be translated as the great [or long] standing place of Kiwa.  

“It is clear to me that both names carry significant meaning for the community,” Eugenie Sage said.

“On one hand the restoration of the traditional Māori name Tūranganui-a-Kiwa for the bay is long overdue for local iwi, given the importance of their tupuna or ancestor. At the same time there is significant heritage value associated with the name Poverty Bay being given by Captain James Cook and recognising his first landing in New Zealand, as well as use of the name by local people.”

The Minister’s decision followed a proposal for a dual name from Gisborne District Council to the New Zealand Geographic Board/Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (the Board) in March 2018.  

“In making my decision I considered that the Gisborne District Council’s proposal followed several years of discussion and debate within the community. Further to this, the Board consulted for three months and received 609 submissions.”

Maps, navigation charts and other resources will now be updated to reflect the change.


Further information

Of the 609 submissions received by the New Zealand Geographic Board/Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa, 155 clearly supported the dual name, 141 supported the existing name Poverty Bay and 143 supported Tūranganui-a-Kiwa.  A small number proposed alternative names or were neutral, and the remainder of the submissions supported the name Tūranganui-a-Kiwa but were unclear on whether they preferred a dual or single name.

There are a number of differing accounts about the significance of the name Tūranganui-a-Kia.  In its proposal to the Board, the Gisborne District Council submitted that the history of the rohe is tied to the arrival of seafaring navigators. For Tūranga and adjacent iwi, whakapapa connections can be made to Paoa and Kiwa – the commander and navigator aboard the Horouta canoe.

On reaching the East Coast, the Horouta canoe beached in what is mapped as the Gisborne Harbour. Here, Kiwa as Priest (according to custom) was the first to land, and he claimed the land by planting Mauri. In this declaration of ownership he named the place “Tūranganui-a-Kiwa” or “The great standing place of Kiwa”. This was near what was later named the Tūranganui River. The events which brought Horouta to Aotearoa is still recalled today by tangata whenua when they waiata the ancient patere ‘Haramai a Paoa’.