Local Iwi and residents in Gisborne are welcoming a decision by the NZ Geographic Board to support the dual name proposal for the "Tūranganui a Kiwa / Poverty Bay" region.
Wirangi Pera of local tribe Te Aitanga-a-Māhaki says, “To us this a significant development to recognise to the original name that we know as Tūranga Nui a Kiwa.”
When Cook landed at Tūranganui-a-Kiwa in 1769, he called it Poverty Bay because there was "no one thing" he or his crew wanted from the area. Pera says Turanganui a Kiwa has historical ties to the indigenous ancestors of this land.
“It comes from Paoa, Paoa and Kiwa, down to us that's the lineage of Te Aitanga a Māhaki, Rongowhakaata and Ngāi Tāmanuhiri,” he says.
In 2013 students at Kaiti School submitted a petition to the council with 2,500 signatures asking for the name change to recognise the original name. The proposal was supported earlier this year by The Gisborne District Council.
Mayor Meng Foon says, “Similar to Taranaki Mt. Egmont, at the time when they added Taranaki there were a number of complaints, although now we don't really here the name Mt. Egmont.”
NZ Geographic Board received over 600 submissions, with a quarter wanting to retain "Poverty Bay", a quarter preferring just "Turanga Nui a Kiwa", and a quarter backing the dual name "Turanga Nui a Kiwa Poverty Bay". The remaining submissions offered ambiguous support or were neutral.
In support of the initiative, one member of the public says, “So blessed to live in Gisborne with our Māori culture and how prevalent it is I think it's really important to have that shown in our name as well.”
Another member of the public says, “I think it's a great representation of Gisborne's true history.”
"To finally recognise its true name Tūranga Nui a Kiwa," says one other member of the public.
Pera says, “This is my challenge to others around the country, what are you doing with the names of your ancestors?”
A formal name change would be officially recognised by Government, local authorities and on maps.
A report is being prepared by the NZ Geographic Board for Land Information Minister Eugenie Sage who will make the final decision.