Hawke's Bay

The longest place name in New Zealand

At 85 characters, this placename is one of the longest in the world.

Near Porangahau in Hawke’s Bay is an unassuming hill known as "Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu", which translates into English as "the place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as 'landeater’, played his flute to his loved one." Locals simply call it Taumata Hill.

Tamatea was a famous chief and warrior. One day, while travelling through the back of Porangahau, he encountered another tribe and had to fight them to get past. During the fight his brother was killed. Tamatea was so grieved over the loss of his brother that he stayed at the battle site for some days. Each morning he would sit on the hill and play a lament on what is called the koauau or Maori flute.

You can find the hill by driving south from Waipukurau for about 55 kilometres, turn right onto Wimbledon Road. A sign displaying the name is situated about five kilometres along this road. It’s a great photo opportunity. The actual place is on private land, so permission is required before you can walk to it.