The divide between the Rimutaka and Tararua ranges has been officially named Remutaka Pass "in keeping with the heritage and place-naming traditions of local iwi", according to Land Information New Zealand.
Land Information Minister Louise Upston on Friday confirmed the new name, which was considered by the New Zealand Geographic Board Nga Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB) after being proposed by former Masterton Mayor Frank Cody.
Mr Cody made the proposal as a member of the Remutaka Pass Co-ordinating Group. The pass is the lowest point between the Rimutaka and Tararua ranges. The initial motivation for naming the pass, according to the group, was to help in its promotion as a scenic drive.
"Remutaka is the original Maori name for the feature. It commemorates the edge [remu] of Haunui-a-Nanaia's cape falling to the ground [taka] when he first viewed and named Wairarapa," NZGB secretary Wendy Shaw said.
"The name recognises its historic significance to mana whenua, and the pass's traditional use by Maori to pass from the Hutt Valley to the Wairarapa."
Public consultation on the proposal ran for three months to the end of last August and attracted 16 submissions, 14 in support, and two objecting.
Remutaka Pass will be the name of the pass only, Mrs Shaw said, and the names of Rimutaka hill, Rimutaka Range and Rimutaka Hill Road have not changed.
The New Zealand Transport Agency has placed a new sign at the summit car park of the pass at State Highway 2 between Upper Hutt and Featherston, she said, and an information board outlining the history of the road will also be updated to reflect the name change.
The earliest use of the spelling Remutaka, which translates as sitting to rest, is believed to have been reports in 1841 of visits to Wairarapa by colonial surveyors Robert Stokes and JW Child.
Wairarapa iwi authorities Rangitane o Wairarapa and Ngati Kahungunu ki Wairarapa support the name change.
More information about Remutaka Pass is available at linz.govt.nz.