Places of Nelson

There are many places that are significant to Nelson, known as Whakatū in te reo Māori. Use the recommended resources to find out about their histories.

1890s photo of Trafalgar Street in Nelson. 2 girls are in the foreground. Christ Church Cathedral is on the hill at the back.

Image: Trafalgar Street in Nelson by Tyree Studio. Collection: Tyree Studio: Negatives of Nelson and Marlborough districts

Which places can I find out about?

Here are some places in Nelson you could find out about:

Whakatū marae

Whakatū marae
Supports six mana whēnua iwi.

Find out about Whakatū marae
Maitahi | Mahitahi | Maitai River

Maitahi | Mahitahi | Maitai River
The river flowing through Whakatū.

Find out about the Maitahi river
Broadgreen Historic House

Broadgreen Historic House
Cottage built in 1855. Has been furnished and restored to show family life in Victorian and Edwardian times.

Find out about Broadgreen Historic House
Isel House

Isel House
Historic home. Tells the story of the Marsden family.

Find out about Isel House
Christ Church Cathedral

Christ Church Cathedral
Nelson's cathedral is on Church Hill known to Māori as Piki Mai.

Find out about Christ Church Cathedral
Matangi Āwhio | Auckland Point

Matangi Āwhio | Auckland Point
Established as a pā around 1450 by the tupuna (ancestor) Pōhea. It has a long history of occupation.

Find out about Matangi Āwhio

Tips: These are just some examples of places you could research. You may have somewhere different you're interested in finding out about. Just use the place name as your search terms in the resources below.

Nelson resources

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out more about places in Nelson.

Te Kura Whānui | Cultural Mapping

Te Kura Whānui is a living kaupapa from Ngāti Apa ki te Rā Tō. It documents sites of significance.

  • Select a red location on the map.

  • This will bring up a box of information about the place.

The Prow

The Prow is a local website featuring historical and cultural stories from Nelson, Tasman and Marlborough. It is a collaboration between the Nelson City, Tasman and Marlborough District Libraries, Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology and The Nelson Provincial Museum, so its information is reliable.

  • Look for Places to find stories about the places and spaces of the top of the South Island of New Zealand.

  • Select Māori to explore the Māori history of Whakatū.

  • You can also enter keywords in the search box.

  • Go to audio walks for different walks you take around Nelson.

  • Select a walk for downloadable maps and audio you can listen to on the walk.

Nelson City Council

The Nelson City Council website has information on tohu whenua, landmarks important to Māori in Whakatū. It holds a collection of stories from local Nelson kaumātua (elders) on place names and landmarks within the Whakatū region. As the stories are spoken, the correct pronunciation of place names can be heard.

Nelson Provincial Museum | Pupuri Taonga o Te Tai Ao

This museum, started in 1841, is the kaitiaki (guardian) of social and natural history and Taonga from the Nelson and Tasman regions. Over 150,000 items can be looked at through its online collection.

  • Browse through the featured collections.

  • You can also enter keywords in the search box.

  • Select an object to find out more.

Tips: Historical sources, eg photographs, can be useful for finding different perspectives on a topic. Keep in mind that they may not fairly show a wide range of views or experiences.

Te Tau Ihu Statutory Acknowledgements

In the Top of the South, there are eight iwi who have Tangata Whenua status. The maps and documents on this website record many of the traditional stories which the different iwi associate with their regional sites of significance.

  • Select an Iwi to view their maps.

  • Browse the Statutory Acknowledgement document to read the stories behind the landscapes.

Ngāti Koata

This is the website of Ngāti Koata and covers current and historical information about the iwi.

  • Go to Tiaki Taiao and then He Reo Nō te Puehu.

  • This has videos and stories you can explore about Rangitoto ki te Tonga’s Lake Moawhitu and how it has changed over the last 1000 years.

General New Zealand resources

These websites have good information about the history of New Zealand as well as Nelson.

Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand

Te Ara is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we look down to the bottom of the page, we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Go to the section Places and choose Nelson.

  • Nelson places has information about how the city of Nelson was settled.

  • The Nelson region story has some excellent information on the Māori history of the area.

  • You can also search using the key words eg 'Te tau ihu'.

  • Go to Te Tau Ihu tribes and explore iwi migration to the Top of the South and land loss after colonisation.

Rārangi Kōrero | New Zealand Heritage List

This is part of the Heritage New Zealand website. It is a record of place-based heritage in New Zealand.

  • To browse places, under Region select Nelson Region.

  • Then select the Show listings button to see all the places.

  • You also have the option to use filters to search by keywords, list types or show listings.

Papers Past

This website is great for finding local primary sources as it has newspaper articles published in New Zealand.

  • Choose Newspapers and you will have the option to explore by title, region or date.

  • You can also search using keywords like a place name.

  • Then you can narrow down the dates and choose newspapers from a local region.


NZHistory is a great website for information about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we go all the way down the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable.

  • Select Places.

  • From the menu choose

  • Nelson and then one of the places on the list eg Nelson City.

  • Look down the page to see articles related to the place.

  • You can also enter keywords in the search bar.

ManatuTaonga - YouTube

This is the official YouTube channel for Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage. It create audio guides for road trips across New Zealand that tells the stories of places along the way.

Tips: When watching videos on YouTube, it's important to check that the information is coming from a trusted source. We know these videos will be well-researched and reliable because they come from Manatū Taonga | Ministry for Culture & Heritage.

Māori Maps

Māori Maps shows the tribal marae of Aotearoa New Zealand. Marae are the centres of Māori identity, marking the home ground and mana of hapū (kin groups) and whānau (families). A marae is both a physical and spiritual location, a collection of buildings and an anchoring to the land, a place where people meet and the community of related people itself.

  • Search using the keyword 'Nelson'.

  • Choose a marae to view a selection of photos, address and contact details, and key information.

New Zealand Gazetteer

This is a tool on the Toitū Te Whenua | Land Information New Zealand website where you can search for place names in New Zealand. Some places will tell you where the name came from, or other names a place may have had.

  • Enter a place name into the search bar.

  • Names in bold are an official place name.

  • Look in the Details section for history or meaning of the name.


Here are a few books about local Nelson history for you to look for at your school or local library. Your local librarian is a great person to ask for the best books about your local area.

Here are some books about general New Zealand history that you might find at your school or local library.

SCIS no: 5496317

More about Nelson

People of Nelson

Here are some sources you could look at if you'd like to find out about individual people or groups of people from Nelson.

Learn about people of Nelson

Events of Nelson

Many things have happened that have had an impact on Nelson, find out about them using these websites and collections.

Learn about events of Nelson