New place names restore Maniapoto and Rereahu history

Māori place names have been restored to the small central North Island town of Benneydale, and a nearby stretch of the North Island Main Trunk railway announced Minister for Land Information Eugenie Sage.

Benneydale has been changed to a dual name ‘Maniaiti / Benneydale’ and the main trunk railway between Te Awamutu and Taumarunui, is now named ‘Te Ara-o-Tūrongo’ following a request from Ngāti Maniapoto.

“I am pleased to restore official place names which bring to light our history for everyone to celebrate and enjoy. I accepted the recommendation of the New Zealand Geographic Board that there be the dual name Maniaiti / Benneydale in recognition of the unique histories of both names” said Eugenie Sage.

“The original Māori name, Maniaiti, has been maintained through oral tradition for the land on which the town lies and for the hill nearby. The name means ‘a small slide, slip’.”

Benneydale, home to nearly 200 people was established around 1940 to house workers mining coal discovered in the area. The name Benneydale is a combination of the surnames of the Under-Secretary for Mines, Charlie Benney, and the Mine Superintendent at the time, Tom Dale.

In 1885 Ngāti Maniapoto leaders gave land to the Crown to be used for the construction of the railway on Premier Robert Stout’s assurance that the section running through the district would be called ‘Tūrongo’, a significant tupuna (ancestor) of many Tainui groups. The name Te Ara-o-Tūrongo means ‘the track of Tūrongo’ or ‘Tūrongo’s pathway.’ 

Both name changes follow proposals to the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa by Te Arawhiti – the Office of Māori Crown Relations (formerly Office of Treaty Settlements), on behalf of Treaty claimants Ngāti Maniapoto.

Ngāti Maniapoto and Ngāti Rereahu share mana whenua over this area.

Chairman for Te Maru o Rereahu Iwi Trust, Eric Crown, says Rereahu are very happy to hear that the New Zealand Geographic Board has accepted our historical record and the Minister has chosen to acknowledge the dual name of Maniaiti / Benneydale.

“It has always been important to Rereahu that our history and reo is maintained and enhanced not only for this generation but for generations to come. This acknowledgement will not only allow a more complete understanding of our Rereahu Iwi history in the area but will also be an embodiment of the duality envisaged in the Treaty of Waitangi.”

Maniapoto Māori Trust Board Chairman, R Tiwha Bell, says that “the recognition of the original name Maniaiti reflects the wishes of kaumātua of Ngāti Rereahu who sought this outcome as part of the Treaty settlement negotiations with the Crown. We are pleased their wishes have been achieved.”