It's official - New Zealand no longer has some of the world's most offensive place names.

The Government announced earlier this month that three offensive place names in North Canterbury containing the N-word would be changed.

The changes were made official yesterday with the publication of the Gazetteer, the official record of New Zealand place names.

The new names are Pūkio Stream, formerly N***** Stream; Tawhai Hill, formerly N*****head; and Kānuka Hills, formerly N***** Hill.


Land Information Minister Louise Upston earlier said the original names reflected "a time when attitudes towards this word were markedly different to what they are now".

Upston said it was a word "clearly offensive to most people" today, so she was pleased to make the decision.

The minister added that the name change wasn't about rewriting history - "it is and will remain a matter of public record that these three places used to carry different names".

"However, in a society like ours that is multicultural and where most New Zealanders do not go out of their way to be offensive or exclude others, I do not believe this word has a place in our official names."

Earlier this year in April, the proposed name changes came up against some objection.

The Geographic Board referred the decision on whether to adopt new names for N*****head and N***** Hill to Upston because 61 of the 223 submissions had objected to the changes.

Chair of the Geographic Board Mark Dyer said the reasons for objections varied.

"Some submissions sought the retention of the existing names and some supported names other than those proposed."


Changes to place names can be proposed by any member of the public and are considered by the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa.