The formation of our new organisation presents us with many opportunities to do things in new ways. One of those is the use of Te Reo Māori names for the regions. 

Using Māori names for our regions recognises our commitment to Māori as tangata whenua, acknowledges the traditional history of Māori, and helps to make Te Reo Māori part of our everyday business.

Our Pou Herenga Māori (National Māori Adviser) Piki Thomas offered the traditional Māori story of Māui fishing up the North Island as the foundation of our naming convention.  The North Island is described as the fish of Māui while the South Island is described as the canoe from which Maui hooked his great catch.

Aotearoa NZ - Maaori depiction

(Photo credit:

"Being able to use the story of Maui is fantastic as it signifies the creation of New Zealand as we build our new organisation. Māori names for our Regions is a chance to reflect the bicultural foundation of what has made New Zealand a truly great multi-cultural society. We aspire to be an inclusive organisation that is reflective of our communities and respecting where we have come from. This is a good way to demonstrate that."  Kerry Gregory, DCE Service Delivery.

Piki and his team consulted with a number of Māori leaders, organisations and staff members on the proposed Te Reo Māori naming conventions for Fire and Emergency New Zealand regions. 

This story, and the consultation process identified the following names:

  • Te Hiku – the tail of the fish of Māui – for the old Region 1
  • Ngā Tai ki te Puku – from the coast to the stomach of the fish of Māui – for the old Region 2
  • Te Ūpoko – the head of the fish of Māui – for the old Region 3
  • Te Ihu – the bow of the canoe – for the old Region 4
  • Te Kei – the stern of the canoe – for the old Region 5

Although our regional boundaries are not a perfect match to the parts of the fish or canoe they do serve as a general descriptor of those regions. Our regional boundaries do not fully represent iwi boundary lines.  

Watch: Our regional names video

Piki Thomas, Pou Herenga Māori (National Māori Adviser), takes us through the background of our regional names and how to pronounce them correctly.

If you are having trouble viewing the video on the Portal, you can follow the link to watch it directly: link)


The new and old names for our regions

The new and old names for our regions

Last modified: