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March 4, 2010

Place Names That Roll Off The Tongue

Thursday Thirteen

Thirteen Interesting New Zealand Place Names

I like place names that roll off the tongue. Here are some from New Zealand that I enjoy saying.

1. Paekakariki – means perching place of the kakariki (green parrot). Pronounced pie-ka-ka-rekey

2. Paraparaumu – translates to scraps from an earth oven. Most people pronounce it Para-para-oo-moo

3. Wainuiomata – translates to faces streaming with water. It’s pronounced Why-nui-O-ma-ta

4. Papamoa – I couldn’t find a translation, but it’s pronounced pa-pa-mower

5. Whakarewarewa – it’s the short version of Te Whakarewarewatanga O Te Ope Taua A Wahiao and means The uprising of the warriors (war party) of Wahiao. Locals call it Whaka.

6. Turangawaewae – translates to a place to stand or footstool. (Two-runga-why-why)

7. Waikanae – translates to waters of the yellow-eyed mullet (fish). It’s pronounced Why-kah-nye

8. Waitakere – the names comes from a Maori chief. It’s pronounced Why-tack-ah-ree

9. Horowhenua – I couldn’t find a translation. It’s pronounced Hor-o-fen-u-a

10. Waimarama – Wai means water, marama has a number of meanings from lunar to deity, so it could be moonlight on the water, but I’m not sure of the translation. Pronounced Why-ma-ra-ma.

11. Wairarapa – translates to glistening waters, and it’s pronounced Whyra-ra-pa.

12. Tuakau – I went to school here and remember seeing parcels addressed to “To-a-cow”. No one is sure of the meaning, but it’s actually pronounced to-a-cow

13. Pukekohe – I lived here for part of my life. The translation is hill of the kohekohe (NZ Mahogany). It’s pronounced Pukee-ko-ee

What is your favorite place name—one that you like because it rolls off the tongue?


  1. Hazel

    Tuakau sounds very interesting. Love it!

  2. Anthony North

    Love those names – and their translations.

  3. Sassy Brit (Alternative-Read.com)

    Hi Shelley! :)

    Waimarama sounds like a lovely word – also like the dog breed – maybe that’s where they come from??? We have them here – massive dogs.

    Here is my Thursday 13

    Hope you can drop by and say hello!


  4. Hootin' Anni

    As an American…they verbalize in my head as tongue twisters. LOLOLOL

    Here is my T-13 Notable Irish
    [scroll down below my Thursday 13]

  5. Kimberly Menozzi

    I’ll have to be honest and say that if you hadn’t posted the pronunciations, I’d never be able to manage them, myself. LOL!

    Beautiful names, though. :)

    Happy TT!

  6. Ella Drake

    I love the names in NZ.
    Lovely sounding!

  7. Stephanie Adkins

    Now I’m sitting here trying to pronounce these and talking to myself. LOL! Love the words though. Happy Thursday! :mrgreen:

  8. Adelle Laudan

    Can you say Paekakariki, five times really fast? Bet you can’t! lol Great list. Happy T13!

  9. Julia Smith

    Hmm…interesting question about the dogs from Sassy Brit – and I also like Waimarama the best from your list. I’m a moon-on-night-time-water gal, what can I say?

    I’ve always loved Antigonish here in Nova Scotia – it’s a Mi’kmaq name meaning ‘place where the branches are torn off by bears gathering beechnuts’. Nowadays it’s a highly-Scottish university town, having been settled by Scots.

  10. Debra Kayn

    Interesting! I wouldn’t have had a clue how they are pronounced, but trying to say them has been fun. I’d love to hear them with your accent.

  11. Alice Audrey

    Scraps from an earth oven? Like, little tid-bits of food? I could get into that.

  12. Sasha Devlin

    Thanks for the pronounciation. I have to admit when I see words like that in print I freeze up, take the first part, and then call it that the rest of the way.

    I’m suddenly blanking on places I like to say!

  13. A. Catherine Noon

    Holly coocoo! What an awesome list!

  14. Jennifer Leeland

    I love when you do stuff like this.

  15. Elise Logan

    Those are so interesting. The translations are particularly fascinating – some make you wonder how the place was named that.

  16. Tatiana Caldwell

    Wow, those are great names. Very sexy, to me. Especially Paraparaumu, Wainuiomata and Waimarama.

    Cool list!

  17. Shelley Munro

    Sassy – it does sound like the dog breed.

    Julia – that’s a great translation for a place. It sounds as if the Mi’kmaq chose their place names much like the Maori people.

  18. Shelley Munro

    Adelle – I took up the challenge and aced the test. *puffing chest out*

    Paige – Bora Bora does roll off the tongue. I’m going there in just over a month. I can’t wait.

  19. Shelley Munro

    Alice – yes, that’s craps of food. An umu is a Maori oven. They were cannibals at one time, eating their enemies. I’m hoping the umu was used for seafood rather than heads. :eek:

  20. Nessa

    This was very interesting but I would never be able to get around. I can’t say any of them.

    Sean the Vampire

  21. Susan Helene Gottfried

    Whoa. Those are busy turning my tongue into knots! And making the cat look at me funny, too.

  22. Bryn

    Those are hard to say…but beautiful! Some of these words reminded me just a little of Hawaiian words, so I Googled a little and I guess the two languages are slightly related…

  23. Shelley Munro

    Bryn – yes, it’s true they’re quite similar. There are all sorts of theories about where the Maori came from and Hawaii is one of them.

  24. Heather

    And I thought we had some interesting Native American place names here…like Oconomowoc (O-con-o-mow-woc). The name was derived from Coo-no-mo-wauk, the Pottawatomie term for “waterfall”.

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