It was Captain James Cook who gave Poverty Bay its name in 1769, after finding "no one thing" he wanted and killing nine Maori during his first visit ashore.

But the region already had a name,Turanganui-a-Kiwa. And now, Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon wants to acknowledge that.

"People have a debate in terms of, 'well Poverty Bay was the original name' and I say well, hey that's one name that your ancestors gave but there was an original name from Turanga iwi right here in the Tairawhiti in the Moana-nui-o-kiwa."

Meng Foon is suggesting adding a Maori name, which iwi approve, to Poverty Bay.

But for some, that doesn't go far enough.

Ngati Oneone spokesman Nick Tupara is a descendant of those killed by Captain Cook's men in 1769.

He says the name Poverty Bay needs to be dropped completely.

"We need to pick up the true honest name for this place, and that's Turanganui-a-kiwa."

"[Captain James Cook] came here, shot nine of my ancestors and before leaving decided it afforded him nothing that he wanted and we've lived with that for 250 years, and in 2016 it's time that we addressed that."

The debate has been bubbling away for decades. Back in 2013, Kaiti School students marched for change.

Sarai Gerrard, 10, says: "Gisborne isn't poor and that's the words behind poverty, poverty itself is poor and Gisborne is rich in many ways that no-one can explain."

Some have suggested an entirely new name, like Prosperity Bay.

The government body that registers names says Poverty Bay is not an official name, but simply a recorded name.

According to the New Zealand Geographic Board, before a region's name can change it must satisfy several criteria. These include explaining why the name should be altered, its history and meaning, its connection to the region as well as demonstrating local support.

It's not yet clear what the majority of voters think about the issue. Meng Foon says he's now considering how best to get the people of Gisborne talking about it.