place name22

The world’s longest place name appears on a sign that is difficult to photograph because of its length. It is almost impossible for a non-Maori speaker to pronounce.

Taumata­whakatangihanga­koauau­o­tamatea­turi­pukakapiki­maunga­horo­nuku­pokai­whenua­kitanatahu is the 85 letter Māori name for an unremarkable 305 metres high hill, located near Waipukurau in Hawke’s Bay. The English translation roughly means—wait for it— ‘the summit where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, the climber of mountains, the land-swallower who travelled about, played his nose flute to his loved one’.

Tamatea was a famous chief and warrior. One day, while travelling through the district, he and his brother were confronted by another tribe. During the fight his brother was killed. Tamatea was so grieved over his brother ‘s death that he stayed at the battle site for some days. Each morning he would sit on the hill and play a lament on a flute.

The name is sung at the start of a popular Maori song and it is generally accepted that it sounds much better sung than spoken.

By the way, in case you were wondering, the locals simply call the longest place name in the world, Taumata Hill.


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  21. Yes, it was a while before I realised we had such a name in NZ.
    On the trip to Vizag from Chennai, I wrote in my India trip diary some of the names I was seeing, and thinking that they must be the longest names in the word. I know there is a long one somewhere in Switzerland or the Netherlands. Can’t recall.The place names I was spotting in India only reached somewhere around 25 to 30 letters long.

    And I have to ask .. if Chef Tamatea played a flute through his nose,
    did he blow his nose through his mouth?

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