The Hill With The Longest Name

Jun 9, 2018 0 comments


Photo credit: itravelNZ/Flickr

Near Porangahau in southern Hawke's Bay, New Zealand, stands an insubstantial hill with a very substantial name. The hill is known as “Taumata whakatangi hangakoauau o tamatea turi pukakapiki maunga horo nuku pokai whenua kitanatahu”, which translates approximately to “the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, played his flute to his loved one.” For brevity, it is often shortened to Taumata.

Taumata is listed in the Guinness World Records as the longest place name in the world. The name contains 85 letters. But there are other versions of the name that are longer still including one that is 105 letters long. This particular version means, “the hill where Tamatea, the man who was blown hither from afar, had a slit penis, grazed his knees climbing mountains, fell on the earth, and encircled the land, played nose-flute to his beloved one”… or something like that.

This guy, Taumata—the one with the slit penis and a voracious appetite for mountains—was one of New Zealand’s greatest explorers who has been described as the Māori Marco Polo. Taumata circumnavigated the North and South islands and also explored inland, for which he is sometimes referred to as one who “encircled the land”, or “Tamatea the explorer of the land.”


The sign near the hill in 1948. The name was spelled differently and was significantly shorter. Photo credit: Archives New Zealand's National Publicity Studios

According to legend, Taumata was travelling through the back of Porangahau, when he encountered another tribe and had to fight them to get past. During the fight his brother was killed. Tamatea was so grieved over the loss of his brother that he stayed at the battle site for some days. Each morning he would sit on the hill and play a lament on what is called the koauau. The kōauau is a small flute but is played through the nose.

While the hill itself is pretty unremarkable, the sign in front of it displaying the name is a great photo opportunity.

Also see: Lake Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamaugg


Photo credit: itravelNZ/Flickr


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