It wasn't what was in the name but what was missing from above it that prompted Ōpōtiki District Council to correct the town's and region's official spelling in 2018.

On Friday, and after a process with the New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB), the Ōpōtiki region will officially have its macrons.

While a special occasion, it will be business as usual according to Ōpōtiki Mayor Lyn Riesterer because the council has been using the macrons for a long time.

"There's not really much to do," Riesterer said. "All council's signage, documents and online presence has included the use of macrons for some time."


The council first outlined its interest in adding macrons to recognise the importance of its partnership with mana whenua and promote Te Reo Māori and tikanga.

The proposal to NZGB included a history of the name, which says that Ōpōtiki is a contraction of Ōpōtiki-Mai-Tawhiti.

According to this history, the tipuna Tarawa released his pet tanahanaha (fish) into a spring after arriving in Aotearoa. The spring became known as Ōpōtiki-Mai-Tawhiti meaning "the pets from afar".

The town name officially became Ōpōtiki on June 21, last year, so correcting the district name has aligned the two.

While Ōpōtiki District Council doesn't have much to do, the New Zealand Transport Association said it would begin to look for opportunities to make the relevant changes once the name change was formalised.

"Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency is committed to supporting the use of Māori place names where the community has requested them and takes a proactive approach once the New Zealand Geographic Board makes a change to the official geographic name of a place," Bay of Plenty system manager Rob Campbell said.

"The best opportunities exist where we can easily access a sign without requiring temporary traffic management, where the changes required are simple and do not require a full replacement of the sign or where we are carrying out maintenance (or upgrades) that enable us to replace the sign.

"This means that wholesale changes to signs are unlikely, but the changes will occur over time as opportunities present. We seek to work with communities to describe these opportunities and constraints and the likely timeframes for replacement.


"As part of the roll-out of Te Ara Kotahi (our Māori strategy) we will continue to look at our processes to identify further opportunities to be proactive with this work."