How Merivale became Parkvale

By John Cousins


The New Zealand Geographic Board is to be asked to sort out the growing confusion around the official name of the Tauranga suburb which most people call Merivale.

Merivale Community Centre manager Graham Cameron was fed up with how the area's original name of Parkvale was creeping in because of the influence of the internet and post codes.

"Parkvale is a made-up name," he said.

Mr Cameron has decided to take a case directly to the agency responsible for name changes, the New Zealand Geographic Board, because the centre had failed to make headway with the council on the issue.

"It does concern us. People over the years have run campaigns to get the name Merivale officially recognised," Mr Cameron said.

Long-term residents were annoyed to see government agencies commonly referring to Merivale as Parkvale.

"They grew up in Merivale and they don't like being told that the name of their neighbourhood was wrong," Mr Cameron said.

City councillor Murray Guy was frustrated to see the name Parkvale increasingly being reported in the media because it was what the police and other emergency services were using.

"It is an anomaly that must be corrected," Mr Guy said.

A public opinion poll by the Bay of Plenty Times highlighted how Merivale real estate was frequently being marketed as Parkvale, and how several people thought that the southern end of Merivale was called Parkvale.

Mr Guy said Parkvale was creeping into usage. "It needs to be sorted out. It is an important part of our history," he said.

A book on the history of Merivale showed the suburb came into being after the end of WWII, when six family farms were purchased and subdivided. One of the farms was called Merrivale Estate and the name stuck, although an "r" was dropped along the way.

The name Parkvale still appeared on maps of Tauranga, which was why emergency response agencies such as the New Zealand Police and the Fire Service still referred to Parkvale in official releases.

Tauranga South police Sergeant Chris Summerville said there was no directive to use Parkvale over Merivale and the main reason was because all their job dispatches came from Auckland, where the dispatchers were looking at a map.

He said local police flipped between both names, depending on the circumstances. "It's horses for courses," Mr Summerville said.

Tauranga's Merivale often drew humorous comparisons with Christchurch's upmarket suburb of the same name. However, the choice of Parkvale would not be exclusive to Tauranga, because Hastings also had a suburb called Parkvale.

Parkvale did not rank a single mention in Tauranga's phone listings, whereas Merivale had nine references including Merivale School. The issue was further complicated by Otumoetai having a Parkvale Rd.

School principal Jan Tinetti dismissed Parkvale as a name. "We are Merivale through and through, and we are proud of it. We don't care what others say."

She said the school used both the European name for the area and the Maori name, Tutarawanga, adding, "we are not about to put in a third name".

Ms Tinetti said she had never heard anyone refer to Merivale as Parkvale in their conversation.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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