According to the New Zealand Geographic Board, the city's name has never been gazetted and is regarded (by the board) as a collected or recorded name.
"There is no record for either Gisborne or Turanga (the original maori name)."
During colonial settlement, many place names were classified as 'recorded' and had 'pseudo-official status'. The status of Gisborne as a place name is identical to that of the 'North Island' and 'South Island'. It was revealed last year that those names had never been gazetted... remember what happened after THAT revelation!
87% of public submissions favoured the status quo. However NZGB dismissed those supporting numbers, and was swayed by submitters' reasons. Yeup, if you're a minority holding a good-enough reason (one of the BEST reasons being "I'm an oppressed minority"), you'll win the day!
So...Gisborne was named after William Gisborne, colonial secretary in the William Fox-led NZ Govt from 1869-1872. Good enough reason? The town's Post Office took the name Gisborne in 1870. Howzat! And the next confirmed official usage of the name was in 1877 when Gisborne Borough Council was formed. The clincher, surely!
Ahhhh, but wait: it's believed the name was changed from Turanga (shortened from Turanga-nui-a-Kiwa,"great standing place of Kiwa", to avoid confusion with Tauranga in the Bay of Plenty. Kiwa was supposedly the witch doctor of the Horouta canoe, one of the supposed canoes that brought maori from their supposed homeland of Hawaiiki.) Supposed...supposed...supposed...
Well, in THAT case, we MUST change the city name to that of a maori, mustn't we! It's the way of the PC world! No matter that virtually no-one will want it, as long as the vocal minority is placated! But wait: even THEY are confused, having also credited Mr.Kiwa with being the supposed commander of another supposed migratory canoe! And some even claim Gisborne was first named Tairawhiti - "the coast upon which the sun shines across the water."
Oh, the pressure! I know, let's call for public submissions again!