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Is it time to name Wellington’s wind?

In France, a northerly wind is called mistral and Greymouth has the barber but despite Wellington being known for its wild wind, it has no official name.


Rosa Woods/Stuff

With Wellington’s 180th birthday just around the corner, a historian says it is time for Wellingtonians to have a conversation about naming the wind.

Kaumātua Kura Moeahu from iwi Te Āti Awa said he had named two types in a haka called Kupe Hautoa.

The winds were called te hau mātakataka​ and te hau āwhiowhio​ – te hau mātakataka referred to trees being filled and roofs being lifted while te hau āwhiowhio was connected to whirlwinds and tornados.

“We have been naming winds all our lives and in terms of te ao Māori, we’re going to keep doing that,” he said.

Historian Redmer Yska said it was time for Wellingtonians to “own” the city’s shocking wind.

Winds had been tormenting locals forever and spring gales turned Wellington into “sh..tsville”, he said.

For 24 days of the year, Wellington Airport experienced gusts exceeding 96kmh and 166 days of the year exceeding 63kmh.

A NIWA investigation in 2011 found the frequency of extreme winds over the course of the next century was likely to increase in all regions of New Zealand during the winter and decrease in the summer – especially for Wellington and the South Island.

“It’s consistent with recent findings and recent work.”

Officially naming Wellington’s wind was an interesting thought and was an easy way to remember something like how tropical cyclones were named, he said.

MetService meteorologist Tom Adams said depending on how you defined it, Wellington was the windiest city in the world based on average wind speed.

“Winds that would barely be noticed in Wellington can cause significant damage in other cities that are less used to the wind,” Adams said.

“It’s windy but at least the trees and buildings are used to and designed for it.”


France – Mistral

Switzerland – Föhn/Foehn

United States of America – Santa Ana winds

Northern Africa – Sirocco/Scirocco

Egypt – Khamaseen

​Mexico – Tehuantepecer

Mandy Te/Stuff