Renaming more stuff

I’m in Blenheim, having a toilet and internet stop (not simultaneously). It’s the last major town before Picton, and in a couple of hours I will sail from there back to Wellington. Tomorrow will be my last full day in New Zealand, and I fly back on Friday.

I’ve had a great (though very whistle-stop) tour of the South Island, and I will no doubt rave about how fantastic this country is when I get home, catch up with myself, and upload some photos.

However in the meantime, I think I need to get a rant off my chest – New Zealand needs to rename a whole heap of stuff.

Take the most northerly and southerly provinces: they’re called, wait for it, Northland and Southland. There’s even an area in Southland referred to as Northern Southland. I mean come on, surely New Zealanders can be more imaginative than this. How about calling them the Pointy Bit and the Flat Bit, respectively?

And then there’s the two main components of New Zealand – the blandly-named North Island and South Island. A poor show from the early settlers, and their descendents should have a go at thinking up better names. There are, for example, several Kiwi double-acts that you could rename the islands after – Lemon and Paeroa; League and Union; or Fush and Chups.

Or perhaps even Edmund and Hilary, to commemorate the recent death of apparently the most famous New Zealander.

Not that I knew “Sir Ed” was a New Zealander until I got here and found his mug on the five dollar notes (something else that needs a new name – how about calling the currency the Kiwi?).

To be honest, the only famous New Zealanders I could have named before coming here are Helen Clark, the Prime Minister, and the Celtic player Chris Killen (who even then wouldn’t be all that well known over here I guess).

In fact, I reckon I could name more famous Belgians than famous New Zealanders.

Anyway. Best hit the road again. One last stretch of driving to go…

7 thoughts on “Renaming more stuff

  1. >> How about calling them the Pointy Bit and the Flat Bit, respectively?

    I nearly choked just then because I had a mouthful of cappuccino trying to escape the confines of my lips ahead of the massive guffaw that this phrase induced.

    Fortunately, I was able to get it all under control and survive for another day.

    Also, I though this list of famous New Zealanders might help you to compare with the list of famous Belgians you know… {:->


    You’ve not mentioned the large number of Maori place names that are very difficult to pronounce, but are certainly quite original! (These are mainly in the North Island).

    There are lots of place names that start with ‘Wh’ – but Wh is actually pronounced ‘F’. This means you can have a lot of fun pronouncing places like ‘Whakapapa’ near Tongiriro or ‘Whakatane’ in the Bay of Plenty.

    Interestingly there is a story behind the history of these names which is closely linked to Georgian Britain’s prudery. Professor Samuel Lee of Cambridge University worked with the Maori chief Hongi Hika to systematise the written Maori language in 1820. Maori is largely phonetic, that is it is written the same way it sounds. When asked about the above names, Hongi naturally pronounced them the way his ancestors had. ‘Ahem! You can’t say that!’ must have been the answer, because the good old professor quickly realised British folk would choke on their Earl Grey if reading these places phonetically – so an alternative had better be found!

    So Brits are to blame for all the ‘Whs’ in the Maori language.

  3. I was wondering about Mount Aspiring. Because it is under 10,000 feet, is it just aspiring to be a mountain? Not a very auspicious name. Kind of like the license plates in America which said “Oklahoma is OK”; certainly not bragging. (although possibly accurate)

  4. Thank you Ia(i)ns.
    Jenny – well, they do have a mullet peninsula there, so there’s quite a bit of mullet history in Ireland.
    Shinbikkuri – good point. Who wants to climb an aspiring mountain? No wonder Sir Ed headed overseas for his big expeditions. I guess at least they can’t be accused of falsely raising expectations…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *