herenga a nuku 02 1500x500

Our name

Trails aren’t just for walkers, they’re for all of us – and so is Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa, the Outdoor Access Commission. It's our new name from 28 July 2022.   

Connecting people, connecting places


Listen to highlights from our renaming launch. Created by Te Upoko o Te Ika, Wellington Māori radio

Our new name recognises more than the breadth of trail users, which range from people in tramping boots to fishing waders, sitting astride a horse or a bike, shouldering a rifle or pushing a stroller. Herenga ā Nuku refers to the rich connections we find on the trail – with the whenua and its stories, with ourselves and with each other.  

Herenga is a bond, obligation or tie. Nuku refers to Papatūānuku, the earth mother. She is the land in all her beauty, power, strength and inspiration. She sustains us.  

Mountain biker on dirt trail with greenery, Wellington city and harbour in the background

A mountain biker enjoys the Skyline Walkway, Wellington.

In 2019 a government review of the Walking Access Act 2008 recommended the Commission change its name to better reflect its activities and its relationships with Māori. The Iwi Chairs Forum supported cultural advisors Tūtira Mai to develop a new name for the Commission. 

Public outdoors access is part of Kiwi life and Herenga ā Nuku Aotearoa is the government agency that protects and enhances this access.  

Woman wearing brnaded shirt leans on fence with mountains behind.

Regional Field Advisor Amie Pont shows off her big smile, our new logo and the Kakanui Mountains seen from Kyeburn – part of her local patch: Otago, Waitaki and the Catlins.

“We pride ourselves on our integrity, transparency and patience,” says our chief executive Ric Cullinane. “Our regional field advisors work with communities and across statutory boundaries to create a legacy of trails for everyone to enjoy.  

“Our maps are some of the most comprehensive in NZ. You can even take them to the middle of nowhere using the Pocket Maps app.” 

Better access to the outdoors enables more people to be active in te taiao, improving their mental and physical well-being. And when people can choose to walk or cycle instead of drive, they become more connected to their communities and bring us closer to a sustainable New Zealand. Good trail networks draw in visitors, creating economic opportunities and reinvigorating otherwise overlooked places.  

A trail gets us from A to B, but between those points is the journey. This name change is one step in the Commission’s journey, with many more to come.

View of the back of a horse's head with mountains beyond.

Horse riding, Mt Potts. Photo: Kelly Williams