WELLINGTON - New Zealand is to erase the racially offensive word "nigger" from its landscape, the government said Thursday.
The names of three areas in the Southern Alps of the South Island have been changed to words taken from the indigenous Maori language.
Nigger Stream will now be known as Pukio Stream, Niggerhead becomes Tawhai Hill and Nigger Hill is renamed Kanuka Hills.
Land Information Minister Louise Upston said the use of "nigger" reflected a time "when attitudes towards this word were markedly different to what they are now".
"It is a word that is clearly offensive to most people today," she added.
"This isn't about rewriting history. It is and will remain a matter of public record that these three places used to carry different names.
"However, in a society like ours that is multicultural and where most New Zealanders do not go out of their way to be offensive or exclude others, I do not believe this word has a place in our official names."
But there has been no move to change other South Island names including Darkies Creek, Darkies Terrace Track and Darkies Terrace, which were named after African-American prospector Arthur "Darkie" Addison in the 1860s.
The origin of the nigger place names has not been recorded but Land Information said it may be linked to the native grass Carex Secta which grows in the area and was colloquially refered as "niggerhead".