Te Reo Māori names tell tales of Kaipātiki

Last Updated : 29 Sep 2023
Kotare Northcote OA
Ngutu Kōtare (Kingfisher beak), the Pouwhenua Manu carving that stands as a kaitiaki (guardian) of Te Ara Awataha, Northcote's newly daylighted greenway.

Nine parks and one outdoor classroom in Northcote will now carry te reo Māori names that reflect the area’s natural environment and cultural history. 

The classroom and three of the parks will adopt sole Māori names and the remaining six parks will have dual Māori and English names as part of Te Kete Rukuruku, a culture and identity programme led by iwi, in partnership with the council and its local boards. 

The names and narratives for the Northcote sites were shared with Kaipātiki Local Board at a hui on 21 June 2023 before the board adopted them officially at its business meeting on 16 August. 

Local Board Deputy Chair Danielle Grant is delighted to have the names become part of Kaipātiki. 

“These names and the stories behind them really enrich Kaipātiki and give beautiful insights into the history and culture of our area. On behalf of the whole board, I’d like to give a huge thank you to Ngāi Tai ki Tāmaki and Ngaati Whanaunga for sharing these names with Kaipātiki,” Grant says. 

With the exception of Tuff Crater, the sites are all part of Northcote’s newly revitalised Te Ara Awataha Greenway in Northcote with the new names reflecting a connection to the awa (river) and its flora and fauna. 

Take a look at a map of the ten names with their meanings below. 

Map supplied by Kāinga Ora

Map supplied by Kāinga Ora


Puāwai/Cadness Reserve 
Puāwai is a reference to the flowering and blossoming of the plants across Te Ara Awataha and how this resembles tamariki (children) as they grow up and learn. 

Te Kaitaka/Greenslade Reserve 
A kaitaka is a finely woven muka (flax fibre) cloak with tāniko (intricate geometric patterns). It is a prestigious style of traditional cloak. The use of this name here highlights the value and visibility of the awa (river) in this park. The awa represents the tāniko (borders) around the edge of the cloak with the open fields representing the cloak itself.

Papa ki Awataha/Jessie Tonar Scout Reserve 
This park's name means ‘place at Awataha’. 

Kōkō/Lenihan Reserve 
Kōkō is another name for the tūī. This connects with the name for the nearby reserve named Kukari. It reflects the connection with the environmental improvements, and habitat restoration taking place allowing more native species to return to the area.

Ngā Kōrari/Lindisfarne Reserve 
The name Kōrari is in reference to the flowering stalks and seed pods of the harakeke (flax).

Te Ara o Matakamokamo/Tuff Crater 
This is an iteration of the original name for the water body this reserve circumnavigates, Te Kōpua a Matakamokamo. Te Ara o Matakamokamo (the path of Matakamokamo) acknowledges the tūrehu Matakamokamo in the creation of Te Kōpua a Matakamokamo.  


Te Kāwai (formerly Cadness Loop) 
This park's name is a reference to the reaching elongated shoots of the hue (gourd plant) and the traditional association of the kāwai, likening it to whakapapa in its expanse and reach.

Kukari (formerly Richardson Place Pocket Park)
Kukari is the Māori name for the fledglings of the kōkō (tūī). This name connects with not only the manu (birds) in the area but also references the many young children who come to play in this park. 

Ngutu Kōtare (formerly School Edge) 
Ngutu Kōtare means kingfisher beak. This is also the name of the Pouwhenua Manu, the carving that stands on the edge of the stream below the playground (see photo above). It is a kaitiaki (guardian) of Te Ara Awataha. 

Wai Tāheke (formerly School Edge Outdoor Classroom) 
Wai Tāheke means ‘descending waters’. This relates to the design features of the outdoor classroom shelter which has a carved figurehead situated on the guttering of the roofline. This carving guides fresh rainwater down from its mouth to the natural rock below. The water then flows across the pathway into Te Ara Awataha. 

The addition of these names adds to the restoration of the wairua (spirit) of this area alongside the environmental works that are taking place such as daylighting of the stream and native plantings.

The local board are hoping to adopt some more names for parks in the area including Shepherds Park and the Beach Haven Coastal walkway later this year. 

Stay up to date

Want to stay up to date with all the latest news from your area? Sign up for the Kaipātiki Local Board E-News. and get the latest direct to your inbox each month.

Back to News