News | 10 December 2021

Friday Five: Streets you may be mispronouncing

Are you Street Smart? Test out your knowledge with these commonly mispronounced Wellington street names, part of our Street Smart summer series.

An old postcard of Jervois Quay with large ships in the harbour from 1958.

1. Jervois Quay 

Generally pronounced “Jer-voice” and occasionally “Jerv-wah”, the correct pronunciation is “Jarvis” due to a not-uncommon English tradition of deliberately pronouncing certain surnames ‘wrong’.    

It was named after Sir William Jervois who was Governor of NZ (precursor to the Governor General) from 1883 to 1889.  

The area was reclaimed in 1889 so it is likely that the road was named as a parting ‘gift’ from the city to Jervois when his term came to an end.

2. Majoribanks Street 

This is doubly wrong in that it is both spelt and generally pronounced incorrectly.  

The correct pronunciation is “Marsh-banks” and it was named after Stewart Marjoribanks (1774 – 1863), a wealthy wine merchant and ‘Whig’ M.P in the British House of Commons.  

Interested in Wakefield’s immigration theories, he became an investor and a director on the board of the New Zealand Company but like many of his fellow board members, he never visited New Zealand.

3. Mein Street, Newtown 

Often pronounced incorrectly as “Mee-in”, this should be pronounced “Mane”.  

It was named after William Mein Smith who worked for the New Zealand Company and who surveyed the town of Wellington after finding the land on the Petone foreshore unsuitable.  

He created the inner-city street layout that we use today, laid out the town belt and made provision for the much debated "tenth" share of the land for local Māori. 

4. Everest Street, Khandallah 

Named after the world’s highest mountain, the problem here is that everyone also pronounces Mt Everest incorrectly!  

The correct pronunciation is actually “Eve-rist” and it was named after the Surveyor General of India, Sir George Everest (1790 – 1866) despite his objections. 

Everest wanted to preserve local names as much as possible and pointed out that his name could not be easily spelt or pronounced in Hindi but his objections were overruled by the Royal Geographic Society.  

5. Berkshire Avenue, Wilton 

This is one of several streets in Wilton named after English counties and towns. 

While Worcester Street is generally pronounced correctly as “Wooster” (in part due to the popularity of Lea & Perrins’ famous tasty sauce), Berkshire Street is sometimes pronounced “Berk-Shire”.  

Its correct pronunciation is “Bark-Shir”. 

PLUS - almost every te reo Māori street name! 

A green background with a white ball on legs walking with

Wellington City Council looks after more than 700km of streets across the capital, and each one has its own unique story. Check out Our Wellington and our social media channels for more articles, videos and interesting snippets.