Aotearoa’s first capital, Russell, could soon go back to its original Māori name of Kororāreka.

The Bay of Islands town was well known as Kororāreka until the early 1840s and many in the community still call the town by that name.

Kororāreka stems from the story of an unwell chief who was nursed back to health with soup made from the little blue penguin. 

He declared “how sweet is the penguin”. 

Kororā is the Māori word for blue penguin while reka means sweet. 

Russell’s current name is taken from a former leader of the British House of Commons, Lord John Russell, who never visited Aotearoa. 

The NZ Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa is now seeking public feedback on a proposal to change Russell’s name back to Kororāreka.

The Board says it encourages the use of original Māori names for places and features, especially when there is support from mana whenua. 

The proposal to change Russell’s name back to Kororāreka already has support from Te Rūnanga ā Iwi o Ngāpuhi and the Far North District Council.

Public consultation on the name change is open until April 18.

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