The two names of this hill: Pukeahu and Mount Cook, reflect its rich history. Māori have had a long association with Pukeahu, from pre-historic times until the present day. European settlers, recognising its prominent position, began using and changing the hill from 1840.
What does Pukeahu mean?
In the Māori language ‘puke’ means hill, and ‘ahu’ is an altar or stone platform, or the central stone of a marae. So Pukeahu (sometimes spelt ‘Puke Ahu’) suggests the idea of a ‘sacred hill’ – a sacred place to perform rituals. We know the name Pukeahu was given to this hill by the Ngāi Tara iwi (tribe). However, there is no record of why they gave it that name.
Why Mount Cook?
With the arrival of European settlers, Pukeahu was renamed Mount Cook, after British explorer Captain James Cook, who first voyaged to New Zealand in 1769–70.
Updated on 23rd July 2015