Te Kete Wānanga o Karoro

Library Names: the Stories of the Bilingual Names for Christchurch City Libraries

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The general area of New Brighton abounds with place-names given by owners to describe food resources found the vicinity, wildlife activity and events in human occupation. The original Waitaha name for the Brighton Spit area was Te Karoro Karoro (the seagulls' chatter). Later it was also known to Māori as Kaiaua, which literally means 'to eat yellow-eyed mullet or herring'.

Brighton Spit was formed from sand carried to the coast by the Rakahuri (Ashley) and Waimakariri rivers building up along the shore. The sand formed spits enclosing both Brooklands Lagoon and the Ōpāwaho - Ōtākaro (Heathcote - Avon) estuary.

As one can see, many place names for this region of the city once carried names with a seagull theme. These include Te Karoro Inutai - Coast Dwellers, Te Karoro Karoro - seagulls, Te Kōrero Karoro (the seagull's voices - chattering seagulls), which is the sandspit at Brighton and Te Kai o te Karoro (the food of the seagull), an area in the southern part of the sandspit.

Many stories are told by the descendants of early settlers about the naming of New Brighton. There is more than one Brighton in New Zealand - one in Otago, another in the Buller area now know as Tiromoana and New Brighton here in Christchurch, all probably named with the famous English resort in mind.

Whatever the interpretation it would more than likely be linked with the inspection visit of the lower course of the Avon River by William G. Brittan in 1860. He was sent by the Provincial Council to inspect the channel and to see what measures were needed to improve it. Brittan, with a small party, landed at a small jetty, which had been built in front of the Free's residence. As a compliment to Brooker who had been born in Brighton, Sussex, W. Free had chalked the words 'New Brighton' on a post nearby. The name is also said to have been given by a pioneer after the birthplace of another settler when J. E. Fitzgerald, first superintendent of Canterbury visited the area.

Listen to the Māori name [65KB MP3]

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