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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 10, Issue 7 (October 1, 1935)

Railway Station Maori Names

Railway Station Maori Names.

The South Auckland Lines.

In the following list of Maori place names applied to the Government railway stations, I continue the series dealing with the South Auckland lines. The pronunciation of the Maori language was explained in the opening number of this series, to which readers in doubt can refer. The stressed broad sound of vowels in some names are indicated wherever necessary. The names given here include the short line to Waiuku, the Waikato line, the Waikato-Thames line, and the East Coast railway from Paeroa to Tauranga and Taneatua.

The Waiuku Line.


Patu, to strike or kill; or a weapon; mahoe, the tree called whitewood, (Melicytus ramifloris). A tradition of the Ngati-Tamaoho tribe narrated to the writer by the old chief Tohikuri-o-Waikato states that a war-party from the Tamaki district attacked the Mauku - Patumahoe people about three hundred years ago. The pa of the Ngati-Tamaoho tribe was on the Titi hill on the present road from Mauku to Waiuku. The battle began on the western side of the place where the Mauku railway station now stands, near the church. Huritini, the chief of the invaders, was killed with a blow delivered with a mahoe stake, or part of a sapling, snatched up hurriedly from the ground by a Ngati-Tamaoho warrior who had dropped his weapon. The invaders were defeated and driven from the district. Hence the name of Patumahoe hill and settlement.


Small ground ferns.


Clay water; stream with bed and banks of clay.

The Waikato Line.


A combination of the words for stand (tu) and shore or coast (akau). The name originally of the high bluff hill on which the Alexandra Redoubt (still well preserved large earthworks) was built by the British troops in 1863.

It stands immediately above the Waikato River, and commands a view for many miles down the river.


Po=night; keno=the night of death, the underworld.


Closely-clinging; a lover. Hoataupiri, the beloved one; intimate friend.


Called after Mahuta, the third Maori king of Waikato, son of Tawhiao.


Roto=lake; waro=coal-mine.


Hill of the miro tree (Podocarpus ferrugineus.)


The food-stores (rua) broken open. Name derived from an incident of olden days when the chief of the place, in entertaining a large party of visitors, directed his men to wahia or break open the stores of kumara lately harvested; these stores, pits roofed over, were usually not touched until a special occasion arose to open them for a feast. The name is sometimes erroneously thought to refer to the meeting of the two rivers here, the Waikato and the Waipa (rua=two and wai=water).


Swiftly flowing. This is the name applied to the Waikato River above its junction with the Waipa, where its current, as the Maori explorers ascended the river in their canoes, became strong and swift.


Pit in red earth.


Wind, breeze; usually wind from the north.


Hau has numerous meanings. Here it may be taken as referring to a religious ceremony, hau being sacred food used in the removal of tapu from a person, or a newly-built house, etc.; also a portion of an enemy slain in battle, or something used in a rite to ensure good fortune. Hau also is the spiritual quality or essence which ensures the vitality of man. Tapu = sacred.

Waikato-Thames Line.


One meaning is shrunk, another is hollow. But the name is an ancient Polynesian place name, given to the lower part of the Piako River by the Tainui immigrants from the Eastern Pacific.


Large girdle; the waist-belt of flax, often folded to carry valuables or food.


New river; fresh water.

Te Aroha:

The affections. The two mountain peaks of Te Aroha were so named by explorers of old because of their love and regret for their distant friends. Ihenga, of the Arawa people, and Rakataura, the priest of the Tainui, each ascended the mountain and looking towards the distant lands of their tribes chanted songs expressing their longing for them and they named the peaks Aroha-ki-tai (“Love landward”) and Aroha-ki-uta (“Love seaward”). The beautiful range may therefore be called the Mountain of Love.


Look, behold.


Manga = creek, branch of a river; iti = small.


Pae = ridge; roa = long.


End, extremity, as of a range or hill; various other meanings.


Hiku = the tail or end; taia = neap tide. (On the Waihou or Thames river).


Whare = house; poa = bait, or lure; also sacred food.


The place or home of Mahu.


Ancient hill, pa above the Lower Waihou River, so named because of the abundant and large puriri trees which grew there.


Edge of the axe.


Numerous meanings, including the planet Jupiter; the belly; full; several kinds of fish, etc.


The Maori papa-kainga or village site near Thames town, at the mouth of the Waihou River. Principal meaning is a fine kind of flax robe or cloak, white, with a decorative border.