How do I pronounce Taupō?

Taupō – pronounced ‘Toe–paw’ – is a shortened version of the region’s full name, Taupō-nui-a-Tia. Literally translated, Taupō-nui-a-Tia means ‘the great cloak of Tia’.

Tia was one of the Polynesian chiefs who travelled to New Zealand from Tahiti in the Arawa canoe. As he explored the eastern bays of the lake alongside the priest and high chief Ngatoroirangi, he discovered curiously marked lava cliffs that resembled the colours on the shoulder garment he wore – a rough cape called a ‘taupō’.

Tia halted to honour the spirit of the place and set up a post as a place of sacrifice. To this post he fastened his ‘taupō’ and left it there, before heading south with his tribe on their pioneering way.

Māoritanga (Māori culture) has a unique and vital place in New Zealand. Te reo Māori (the indigenous language of Aotearoa New Zealand) is one of the country’s true taonga (treasures), and preserving it is deeply important.

Correctly pronouncing a place name shows respect to the indigenous Māori people, and also the mana (prestige) and story behind the name.