Sonny Ngatai went on a tiki tour of Aotearoa for his new kids TV show and learned some interesting facts about how our towns were named.


Deep in the South Island, there is a town dubbed



, Richie McCaw's hometown. It's not a Māori word, but a name that came about through the Māori name being mispronounced. The original name of Kurow is Te Kohurau, which refers to a great rangatira (chief) who turned into a mountain in the Waitaki Valley.

2 Paeroa — a well-known name among many Kiwis and world famous in New Zealand for L&P. However the full name of Paeroa is Te Paeroa o Toi te Huatahi, meaning the long range of Toi te Huatahi. Toi te Huatahi was a famous explorer who named many places. In recognition of his incredible intrepid ability, Paeroa was named after him. So there you go — Paeroa, more than just an inu (drink).

3 We've all heard of the lion, the witch and the wardrobe. But have you heard of the man, the fish and the pond? The story of Ōpōtiki talks of a great supernatural man, Tarawa, who swam from Hawaiki with his two supernatural fish. He treated these fish as his children or pōtiki. When they arrived in the area he put his pōtiki in a special pond and named it Ōpōtiki Mai Tawhiti, meaning the children from afar.

4 Down in the mighty Waikato is a town known as Te Kauwhata. It actually refers to an ancient settlement in the middle of a lake in the area, Lake Waikare. Te Kauwhata (originally named Tā Kauwhata) refers to the empty store houses that stood on this settlement, protecting food from pests on the mainland.

5 I must confess, I'm no seafood eater but Kaikōura tells the story of Tama ki te Raki, a Māori explorer known for cooking kōura (crayfish) in the area. The full name of Kaikōura, is Te Ahi Kaikōura a Tama ki te Raki. Te ahi, meaning the fire, kaikōura, to eat crayfish, and Tama ki te Raki, the great explorer.

Sonny Ngatai is a TV presenter and editor, and hosts Tiki Towns, screening on Nickelodeon from September 10. Te Wiki o te Reo Māori — Māori Language Week is from September 10-16.