Many Wairarapa placenames recall ancestral homelands. Maori and European alike named places because of similarities to familiar landmarks left behind. In Wairarapa there are a number of hills and mountains called Hikurangi, recalling the famous mountain said to be a dominant feature of the landscape in Hawaiki and as Europeans arrived they started putting their own names onto maps. Captain Cook, the first European to see Wairarapa, renamed Rangiwhakaoma, calling it Castlepoint. He also renamed Matakitaki-a-Kupe, calling it Cape Palliser. The Small Farms Association members who settled Greytown and Masterton chose to honour Sir George Grey and Joseph Masters when they came to name their towns. The Wellington Provincial Council honoured their Superintendent Dr Isaac Featherston, and the Three Mile Bush settlers honoured their benefactor Charles Rooking Carter in the naming of Carterton. The Honorable John Martin, rather less modestly, named the town he formed near Waihenga after himself. 

Once the town of Masterton was settled the first road names were created by common usage. The road to Dixon’s Worksop Farm became the Worksop Road. The road by the church became the Church Street, and the road where the Town Hall was built came to be called the Hall Street. It was not until 1878 that the streets were officially named, and some semblance of order was given to the method of choosing street names. The majority of the streets at this time were named after the new settlers, or members of the British royal family. Over the years the themes chosen for street naming have changed. It is hard to conceive of any town now naming a block of streets after significant English military leaders, as was the case in Lansdowne in 1904. Similarly, it is doubtful whether even Governors-General would be commemorated the way they were in the 1970s.