Recalling the Taranaki Maunga naming debate

In a previous post, I wrote about the fierce debate that took place in the 1980s about the name of Taranaki Maunga (known at the time to most Pākehā as Mount Egmont), and about my struggle to turn my research about this debate into a published article. Now, courtesy of giving myself a push by presenting a paper at the New Zealand Historical Association (NZHA) conference last year, I’ve finally published my article on the debate. It’s been published in a special issue of the Public History Review journal on the theme of ‘Public History in Aotearoa New Zealand’, based on a selection of papers from the 2021 NZHA conference. The articles in this issue of the journal will be good reading for anyone with an interest in history and memory in Aotearoa.

My article (titled ‘”Egmont, Who Was He?’ The Debate Over Restoration of the Name of Taranaki Maunga”) looks at the background to this major place name debate, the themes in the debate, and the reasons for the intensity of the debate. It also draws some connections to the new Aotearoa New Zealand histories curriculum, which features themes relating to place names.

Currently, the official name of the maunga is still ‘Mount Taranaki or Mount Egmont’, the compromise solution which emerged from the 1980s debate. However, the name is due to be finally changed to recognise the Māori name Taranaki alone, as part of the Taranaki Maunga Treaty of Waitangi Settlement, which is expected to be completed soon. I hope my article can provide some useful context when this change finally takes place.

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