Tohu Whenua “Name change better reflects programme meaning” (Heritage New Zeland Renames Landmarks Whenua Tohunga)




6 November2018

Name change better reflects programme meaning

 Tohu Whenua is the new name for a successful programme identifying and celebrating the significant historic and cultural places of Aotearoa.

“Tohu Whenua better reflects the programme’s increasingly national focus and meaning, replacing the original Landmarks Whenua Tohunga pilot name,” says Programme Manager Denise Stephens.

“Tohu Whenua acknowledges memories of the land, marking places made significant by our forebears and telling their stories.

“The initial pilot programme in Northland launched in late 2016 shows there is considerable pride taken by the selected sites, and this has been repeated in the second pilot programme launched in Otago in December 2017.

“Tohu Whenua is a better fit now that the programme has increased certainty as a nationwide marker of our heritage and history.

“We needed a name that was more appropriate than the original meaning of tohunga which can translate to one skilled in signs and marks.

“Now’s the right time to make the name change as the programme gathers momentum and we increase the promotion and appreciation of the Tohu Whenua.

“New Zealanders and international tourists are identifying and visiting these places, which is fantastic not only for the place, but also for the regional economy,” Denise Stephens says.

The name change coincides with the South Island’s West Coast selection as the third Tohu Whenua region, with a formal launch of chosen sites timed for early December 2018. A site selection process is being worked through.

“The West Coast is rich in history and heritage.  Early Māori sites, industrial sites reflecting the gold and coal mining activities, and other special buildings and places have made the selection process challenging, but enjoyable,” says Denise Stephens.

The programme, established in 2015, is delivered in partnership by Department of Conservation, Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga, and Manatū Taonga Ministry for Culture and Heritage. These agencies were joined by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment this year.



Denise Stephens

Programme Manager Tohu Whenua
Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
(m) 027 642 5592



Extra notes for media:

  • Northland Tohu Whenua sites are: Ruapekapeka Pā, Pompallier Mission and Printery, Cape Brett/Rākaumangamanga, Waitangi Treaty Grounds, Māngungu Mission, Rangihoua Heritage Park, Te Waimate Mission, Kororipo Heritage Park (Kororipo Pā, Rewa’s Village, Stone Store and Kemp House), Clendon House.
  • Otago Tohu Whenua sites are: TSS Earnslaw, Arrowtown, Bannockburn Sluicings, Kawarau Suspension Bridge, Otago Central Rail Trail, Hayes Engineering Works, Totara Estate, Historic Oamaru, The Taieri Gorge Railway, Olveston, Dunedin Railway Station and Larnach Castle.
  • Over time more sites will be added to the programme in consultation with the agencies, iwi and owners.
  • Funding for the programme comes from equal annual contributions of $130,000 of baseline funding from each of the participating agencies. In March 2018 the agencies agreed to commit $130,000 each per annum for the next three financial years (being a total of $1,560,000 from July 2018 to June 2021).
  • The partner agencies anticipate spending around $34,000 on signage changes and installation.

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