In the wake of the decision to change three South Island place names containing the word n*****, a Hawke's Bay Marae chairman says that Blackhead Beach also has a racist naming origin.

Despite the familiarity many locals have with Hawke's Bay's Blackhead Beach, Rongomaraeroa Marae chairman Ahuriri Houkamau has said the beach's legitimate name is Te Pariomahu Beach; a far cry from the name commonly used.

Nestled in the pages of Jeremy and Pam Ballantyne's book Pourerere Road, which details the history of Omakere and Tamumu District, are the naming origins of Blackhead Beach.

''In 1769 Captain Cook name the headland Blackhead because the countryside was black with Maori who had climbed the hillside to get a look at the strange object sailing along the coastline. Since then, the name Blackhead has been used,'' the book reads.


While this may come as a surprise to many locals, Mr Houkamau was well aware of these origins, however he said the legitimate Maori name Te Pariomahu Beach overshadows this "derogatory" piece of history.

"We are aware of the story and it's something we talk about with a bit of distaste ... but it doesn't need a name change it just needs to be referred to as it's actual name," he said.

Mr Houkamau said the Maori name Te Pariomahu has been forgotten over time, making it hard for the local community to uphold this legitimate name.

"It does get very annoying, actually more than annoying that these terms aren't used or even forgotten," he said.

Mr Houkamau said a name change is probably needed but it should happen naturally as fewer Maori are referring to the beach as Blackhead.

He said the local community has been actively calling the beach Te Pariomahu to make people more aware, however signposts could be changed to help educate the wider public.

Last month the Herald reported N***** Stream, N***** Head and N***** Hill were all identified as "clearly offensive" by Land Information Minister Louise Upston, who said she was pleased to make the decision to rename the places Pukio Stream, Tawhai Hill and Kanuka Hills respectively.

New Zealand Geographic Board secretary Wendy Shaw said anyone can make a proposal for a new place name or to change an existing name; the board's role being to consider place name proposals against well-established naming guidelines.


"In deciding if a change to a place name is needed, the board takes into account things like whether an original Maori place name exists, history, common use, and correct spelling. It also holds public consultation on place name proposals before making a decision," she said.

In cases where members of the public object to a proposal and the board doesn't uphold the objection, the Minister for Land Information makes the final decision.