To Te or not to Te? Kamo could become Te Kamo

Huhana Lyndon and Richard Shepherd lodged a proposal to change the name of the Whangārei suburb Kamo to Te Kamo. Photo / Tania Whyte

Consultation has begun on a proposal to change the name of the Whangārei suburb of Kamo to Te Kamo.

The proposal was lodged by local hapū Te Kahu o Torongare, with kaumātua Richard Shepherd telling the Advocate last year that Te Kamo was the name of a prominent rangatira [chief] and tūpuna [ancestor] in the area.

Ngātiwai Trust Board chief executive Huhana Lyndon, who has whakapapa to the hapū, said the change would also help improve pronunciation because the suburb’s name was often mangled.

Then-Whangārei mayor Sheryl Mai backed the proposal, saying it would likely encourage correct pronunciation and raise awareness of the history of the area, but Kamo Community Inc chairman Colin Twyman expected there would be resistance from some in the community — especially the older generation, who had always known the area as Kamo.


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A spokeswoman for the New Zealand Geographic Board said the proposal sought to recognise Te Kamo with the correct spelling of his name and to honour the history of the area.

Including the definite article ‘te’ in Māori names elevated the person’s status and respected their importance.

In Māori, ‘te’ could be part of a name, just as ‘O’ was part of O’Neill.

“So, while it may appear to be a small change, it is important to get right,” she said.


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However, the board recognised it was a significant change and invited feedback from the community.

People were also invited to comment on the most appropriate boundaries of the suburb.

■ Submissions opened on Wednesday and can be made until April 18 at or by emailing

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