The place names in Mahau are hard to track down anywhere else. How were they collected?
The place names are not that well-known around Wellington. There aren't many accessible sources. There are maps and various writings by Elsdon Best [Pākehā ethnographer] that're some of the main sources. You can also look back at old Land Court records. There are blocks of land where the names have been documented.
The names come from different layers of Māori occupation. Some date from earlier peoples such as Ngāti Ira, and Ngāi Tara. Others are from more recent people such as Ngāti Tama and Te Ātiawa and Ngāti Toa. It adds to the fabric of the city.
One area where names are coming back and are more known is the streams that run down into the harbour. A lot of those were put underground and lost their public visibility. There are projects to make them more visible or commemorate them in other ways, like the art installation about the Kumutoto Stream that runs down into Woodward St.
Where you can listen to it – the sound of running water. Beautiful! What other streams are there?
They're not all on the app, but for example Waipiro was the name of the stream that came down Bowen St. It means ‘stinking water’, because it didn’t have a great flow and sometimes could be a bit smelly. Wellington is strange because you've got all that reclaimed land.
Lambton Quay used to be the edge of the harbour. And where Bowen Street meets Lambton Quay is where that stream came down. Then there's Kaiwharawhara, which a lot of people probably know because it’s the name of the suburb, but it’s the name of the stream that runs from Zealandia down through Wilton and Wadestown.