Internal Concerns Regarding Name Change Revealed in Waka Kotahi Emails

Waka Kotahi, February 15, 2024: Internal emails from Waka Kotahi, the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA), have unveiled concerns surrounding the decision to relegate the name ‘Waka Kotahi’ and the removal of references to Māori partnership from official communications. The emails, obtained under the Official Information Act, shed light on the deliberations and directives within the agency regarding its branding and communication strategies.

Waka Kotahi

NZTA CEO Orders Removal of Māori Partnership Reference

Chief Executive Nicole Rosie’s directive to remove the only line referencing a partnership with Māori from a press release indicates internal tension over the decision. This move, revealed in over 100 pages of emails, came shortly after Rosie emphasized the importance of partnering with Māori, highlighting its significance in expanding the agency’s scope.

Ministerial Influence on Name Change

Transport Minister Simeon Brown’s verbal instruction to prioritize English in branding and communication added to the complexity. While Brown verbally ordered the name change in late November, formal written directives were not issued, leaving ambiguity around the extent and pace of the transition.

Conflicting Messages and Gradual Transition

The emails depict a mixed stance on the speed of the name change process, with discussions leaning towards a gradual transition to minimize costs. Despite public announcements by Brown, internal conversations suggest a cautious approach, with considerations for phasing out existing materials bearing the Waka Kotahi name.

Staff Discontent and Cultural Significance

Internal correspondence reflects staff discontent with the decision, with one employee expressing deep sadness over the perceived disregard for the names gifted by iwi. The significance of ‘Waka Kotahi’ and its alignment with the agency’s strategy and values is highlighted, indicating broader cultural implications beyond a mere name change.

Public Service Commission’s Position

The Public Service Commission clarified that no written directives regarding the use of te reo had been issued to agencies, adding a layer of complexity to the internal decision-making process at Waka Kotahi.


The revealed emails provide insights into the complexities surrounding the name change decision at Waka Kotahi, reflecting internal tensions and external influences shaping the agency’s communication strategies and cultural considerations.

For further inquiries, please contact the Waka Kotahi Communications Office.

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