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Place naming law to be reviewed

Place naming law to be reviewed

A review of the New Zealand Geographic Board Act will update the process of naming places, Minister for Land Information John Tamihere says.

Mr Tamihere announced a review of the 1946 New Zealand Geographic Board Act today.

The New Zealand Geographic Board is the official place naming authority for New Zealand and its territorial waters. The board assigns names for populated areas such as suburbs, towns and cities, and natural features such as mountains, lakes, rivers and harbours.

“The New Zealand Geographic Board Act 1946 was an enlightened piece of legislation half a century ago but it is now time to review it from our current perspective," Mr Tamihere said.

The review is looking for public input on how the Act should be changed to reflect modern New Zealand society. The review of the Act will:

• clarify the jurisdiction of the New Zealand Geographic Board

• revise procedures for public participation in place naming

• consider the composition and membership of the board

• ensure the provisions of the Act align more clearly with the Treaty of Waitangi

• modernise the Act’s administrative and procedural provisions

Land Information New Zealand has produced a discussion paper that outlines the issues and suggests some options.

It is proposed that the board’s jurisdiction be extended to include the naming of places and undersea features in New Zealand’s still to be defined continental shelf area, and the Ross Dependency in Antarctica.

The review will consider whether responsibility for administrative names should be formally devolved to territorial authorities (for suburb and locality names) and the Department of Conservation (for protected conservation area names).

It also proposes changes to the way the public and Maori are consulted over place naming.

While the current legislation doesn’t expressly spell out the right of individuals and organisations to make place name submissions to the board, the review proposes that the Act be changed to ensure such a right.

The review also considers the use of Maori place names, and proposes methods of consultation with Maori.

“Place names represent our association with places that are important to us,” Mr Tamihere said.

“They also have a more practical application in helping visitors and emergency services find places quickly and conveniently. So it is important that we make sure that the processes for naming places meets those needs in a way that is as up to date and efficient as possible."

Consultation on the review begins today (October 20) and finishes on 19 December, 2003. Public meetings will be held in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin and will be advertised in major newspapers and on the LINZ website. Special interest groups will be asked directly for their input.

Submissions can be made online at http://www.linz.govt.nz/nzgbactreview. Hard copies of the discussion paper can be requested from LINZ by phoning 0800 665 463 or emailing info@linz.govt.nz. Copies of the discussion paper and submission form can also be downloaded from the LINZ website http://www.linz.govt.nz/nzgbactreview

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