By Sandra Conchie
What's in a name? Quite a lot it seems if you live on the fringes of desirable suburbs like Otumoetai or The Avenues.
For years there has been confusion about where one suburb starts and another ends - with some people claiming they live in a posher area than they really do.,p>But a proposed law aims to set the record straight.
The New Zealand Geographic Board is currently in charge of defining suburban boundaries but that power could soon pass to local councils.
Although the bill is still at the drafting stage, it could become illegal not to use your council-allocated suburb name.For Bellevue neighbours Jocelyn Haua and Colin Torstonson, who have lived next door to each other in Sherwood St for 25 years, the argument about where they live can sometimes be a confusing one.
Ms Haua, a 59-year-old health care worker, thinks she lives in Bellevue but quite often received mail addressed as Otumoetai.
She concedes because she lives on the cusp of Bellevue, Brookfield and Otumoetai she really isn't sure what her correct suburb name is.
"It may become really important to some people when it comes to trying to sell their property, but I haven't really thought about it much."
But Mr Torstonson, a 56-year-old beneficiary, said despite the suburban boundary confusion he failed to see any point in changing the status quo.
"I think snobs who live in Matua or Otumoetai might be worry about what suburb they are deemed to live in but I really don't care one way or another.
"They could call this suburb Brisbane for all I care.
It's all about people's perceptions anyway."
The pair's neighbour, Sarah Carter, a 16-year-old Otumoetai College student, said she had always referred to her suburb as simply Otumoetai, but insists she too doesn't care.
"It's just a name," she argues.
Further down Sherwood St, Liz Standen, a 53-year-old secretary, and her retired husband Ivan, 56, say they have always referred to their suburb as Otumoetai and prefer it that way.
Although the fact that Bellevue Primary and Otumoetai College are both nearby means confusion reigns, and it was no different from when they lived on 21st Ave where they were on the cusp of Gate Pa.
"It would definitely matter to us should we ever want to sell our property," Mrs Standen said.
Real estate, it seems, does sharpen people's opinions.
Oceanbeach Rd resident Toni Gudsell, 35, said she was vehemently opposed to any legislative change for fear that officially living in Arataki would impact on the value of her property.
"I live in Oceanbeach Rd, and from a marketing and image point of view, I would want it known as that and marketed as such. There is no doubt suburb names impact on property prices."
Geoff Wilson, 49, who bought a house on Oceanbeach Rd earlier this week, said he has no problem about telling people he lives in Arataki.
"I'm not a snob. I have lived just about everywhere in Tauranga in the last 10 years. They could call this suburb Papamoa for all I care. It's all about people's perceptions in the end."
Oceanbeach Rd retiree Zelma Lewis said she has always referred to her suburb as Mount Maunganui, while appliance saleswoman Charmaine Fleming, who lives near the Omanu Shops and the Omanu Bowling Club, believes the area is Arataki.
Residents in 20th Avenue who live on the cusp of Gates Pa also had varying views whether a law change was necessary.
Beneficiary Darren Armstrong, 39, who has rented in 20th Avenue for 12 years, said he definitely lives in Gate Pa and doesn't need a law change to tell him so.
But his neighbour, mental health support worker Pam Clarke, 62, said she wasn't exactly sure whether she lives in Tauranga Central or Gate Pa.
"I have never really given the matter much thought but probably it would really only matter to real estate agents who have a vested interest in defining suburbs for marketing reasons."
Her neighbour, Jo Day, a sales assistant in her 40s, said she thought she lived in the Avenues or Tauranga Central but agrees it would certainly be helpful if she ever wanted to sell her home for the suburb to be clearly defined.
Harcourts Mount Maunganui branch sales manager Simon Martin said it would be a bit dictatorial to regulate suburb names, as there were already strict rules forcing real estate agents to market properties accurately.
"Certainly it is a confusing for people especially at the Mount because the suburbs lines have blurred over the years."
Tauranga First National Real Estate sales manager Sharmaine Pyle worked in Auckland many years ago, and said the value of a house could change depending on what suburb it was marketed under - especially Titirangi, Greenbay and in the Grammar School zone.
"Personally I'm slated to think council would been given the power to decide suburb boundaries and be able to enforce them, and I'm sure some of my clients who bought in a particular area, would be too."
NZ Post spokesman Ian Long says suburb boundary definitions will have the benefit of providing its customers with greater certainty about the delivery time of their mail, as at present more than half of all mail processed by sort machines is inconsistently addressed.