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The New Zealand Railways Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 3 (June 1, 1936)

Other South Island Names

Other South Island Names.

The following are some of the names of places in the South Island selected for their general interest, or for the stories of their origin.


Eat crayfish, or meal of crayfish. In full the name is Te Ahi-kaikoura a Tama-ki-te-Rangi, meaning “The fire in which Tama-of-theSky cooked crayfish.” The local tradition is that Tama, who commanded the exploring canoe Tairea, from the Eastern Pacific, landed in the South Bay, at Kaikoura Peninsula and kindled his fire there, at the place where the whaling station stands. Kaikoura is celebrated for the size and abundance of its koura which the ancient Polynesians relished so much.


This is a particularly interesting name, one of many transplanted from the Pacific Islands. It is the name of a headland at Kaikoura and it is also the name of one of the islands in the Cook Group.


This Pacific Islands name is also the Maori name of Centre Island, Foveaux Strait.


This is the South Island variant of Whangaroa. The meaning of both names is Long Bay, or Long Harbour.


Sacred hill, or holy mount. This is the graceful conical hill near Palmerston station, it overlooks the Moeraki beach, the traditional scene of the canoe Arai-te-uru's capsize on arrival from Hawaiki. Puketapu, according to legend, was the slave wife of a chief named Pakihiwi-tahi, whose name is that of the hill inland of the Palmerston station, on which the cairn to Sir John McKenzie originally stood. The Maori gods transformed them into these mountains, say the old people of Moeraki village.


Originally Kani-ere, a reference to the act of sawing greenstone.