Calls for Whangārei township of Kamo to get name change

Source: 1News

There are calls for the Whangārei township of Kamo to get a new name.

Local Māori say the change would restore the town's moniker to its rightful origin and would also help encourage correct pronunciation.

“Someone took the name Te Kamo but left out the ‘te’ so Kamo was then Pākehā-fied, if I can use that word,” Te Kamo kaumātua Richard Shepherd said.

The debate in the community of around 10,000 has been forced by local hapū Te Kahu o Torongare wanting the town's original name officially reinstated.

"Someone took the name Te Kamo but left out the 'Te' and pronounced it as 'Kamo' which means absolutely nothing," Shepherd said.

The town was named after tūpuna or ancestor Te Kamo.

“His position was like the mayor - he would sit and he would call all the people together and he would make decisions,” he said.

Kamo was originally a mining town established in the late 1800s but in 1965, it become part of the Whangārei township. Neither Te Kamo or Kamo are registered town names.

It would not be the first time a place name has been changed or altered, with Mount Cook also being officially recognised as Aoraki and most famously, Whanganui being pronounced with an 'h'.

But in Kamo, there is not a lot of support for a change at the local club.

“I think Kamo's been known as Kamo for so many years. I don't see any reason why we should change it,” one man said.

“I don't think it's necessary at all,” one woman added.

“The opinion of most of the local residents will be the same - that a lot of us grew up here, went to school up here and it's always been Kamo,” a resident who has lived in Kamo for the past 75 years said. 

Te Kahu o Torongare Hapū spokesperson Hūhana Lyndon said locals' opinion of the name change is "generational". 

“We need to recognise that many of our residents here have been here for a long time and are very used to Kamo and so that adjustment can be quite tricky,” she said. 

Te Kahu o Torongare plans to make an application for an official name change with the geographic board soon.

“Let’s talk about it, let’s understand and hear each other’s diverse perspectives and then look for a way forward that we can support this name change,” Lyndon said.

The board will have the final say, and while it will run a consultation process, locals will have to dance to its tune.