What is the longest place name in the world?
There is a hill in New Zealand which protrudes from the land to a height of 305 meters. It is located close to Porangahau, south of Waipukurau in southern Hawke’s bay. The hill has been given the Maori name Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu which The Guinness Book of World Records has listed as the longest place-name in the world.
In total the name uses a whopping 85 characters and a ton of practice to pronounce it correctly. The hills claim to fame is its long name. Besides that it’s a pretty ordinary hill. Most of the time to make things easier the name is shortened to Taumata.
Meaning of the name
The rough translation of the name “Taumatawhakatangihangakoauauotamateaturipukakapikimaungahoronukupokaiwhenuakitanatahu” is “The summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the slider, climber of mountains, the land-swallower who traveled about, played his nose flute to his loved one”.
There are also a couple over versions of the name, longer and shorter than this one that have slightly different meanings again.
The name was given to the hill by the local Maori people, Ngati Kere to celebrate their ancestor Tamatea Pokai Whenua. During his life, Tamatea became a famous chief and warrior. The long name was established through different happenings in his life. Turipukaka-pikimaunga-tahu was given through his many raids and wanderings and he was such a huge muscular man, that his name suited him.
Legend suggests that while traveling through the back of Porangahau, Tamatea ran into the Ngati-Hine tribe and had to fight to get past them. During this battle his brother was killed. The battle is known as the Matanui battle.
After his brother’s death Tamatea was so saddend that he stayed in that place for a long time. Each morning he would sit on the knoll and play his Lament on what is called Koauau or Maori flute.
Hence the name Taumata-whaka-tangihanga-koauau-o-Tamatea-turi-pukaka-pikimaunga-horonuku-pokai-whenua-kitana-tahu, which means ‘The hilltop where Tamatea with big knees, conqueror of mountains, eater of land, traveller over land and sea, played his koauau to his beloved.’
If you do venture to the top of the hill, one can see the peak of the Te Awa Putahi, the spiritual ancestral mountain claimed by Ngati kere. If you cast your vision to the west looking inland, the long flat peak of Raekatia, the spiritual mountain there is a pinnacle called — Tetaumatawhakatangihangakoauauorangitane to celebrate Rangitane, the eponymous ancestor of the Tamaki Nui a Rua district.