Name change shock angers councillor

By John Cousins

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TOUGH STAND: Councillor Gail McIntosh is unhappy with the way a potential name change for Cambridge Park has been handled.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER
TOUGH STAND: Councillor Gail McIntosh is unhappy with the way a potential name change for Cambridge Park has been handled.PHOTO/ANDREW WARNER

TAURANGA councillor Gail McIntosh has declared herself "super p***** off" at being blindsided by a proposal to change the name of Cambridge Park.

Letters went out to organisations and nearby residents earlier this month announcing that the council "intends to commence the process to change the name of the reserve at the end of May".

But the trouble was that no one had bothered to tell councillors about the suggested name change to Te Waha O Te Marangai, which translates to "the mouth of the storm".

"It makes me wonder who is running the council, staff or elected members," Cr McIntosh said.

The political storm was touched off by a letter to the editor from former city councillor Mike Baker, who was on the mailing list for the name change letter.

He said the council's response to his inquiries made it appear that the opportunity for the community to either object or support the proposal did not exist.

"It appears to be a fait accompli, with a report just going to councillors to decide the fate of the park's name." He said the new name was hard to pronounce and questioned why the council needed to change something that was not broken.

Mr Baker told the Bay of Plenty Times Weekend that when the council changed the name of Judea's Churchill Park to Matiu Kauri Grove, after an American Mormon preacher, it was on the basis that it was a one-off because of the proximity to a marae.

He said there was a risk that name changes from non-Maori to Maori names would become the norm.

Cr McIntosh said that someone on staff had decided to canvas the opinions of residents without telling councillors. "Council staff went beyond their brief."

The letter had pre-empted normal council processes. "We don't get many emails from ratepayers but we have on this one."

She had personally received eight emails on the issue - about the same number she received from people complaining about noise from the One Love Festival held at The Domain.

"Eight emails is a lot compared with what I normally get."

She said the council had been assured when it approved the name change for Churchill Park that it would not set a precedent for further name change requests.

Cr McIntosh now wants the council to send a letter to the same people saying the name change would be treated as part of the normal Annual Plan process and if the council decided to proceed with the application from Ngai Tamarawaho hapu, it would consult with all the public of Tauranga.

Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout said the process looked back-to-front because the letter from staff had been sent out before elected members had been given a chance to discuss the name change.

A report had been requested to come back to staff next month and the sending of the letter had "certainly been addressed internally". He would not say whether the staff member whose name was on the letter had received a rap over the knuckles.

Buddy Mikaere, a spokesman for the hapu seeking the restoration of the area's original name, said Te Waha O Te Marangai more properly reflected the traditional history.

He told Wednesday's hearing of submissions on the council's draft Annual Plan that "the mouth of the storm" referred to the observation of their old people that it was the place where they could see approaching northerly rain storms.

"It was possible to see out over Otumoetai - through a gap - to the sea."

Mr Mikaere said the area was an observation post for people living below in Puketoromiro Pa.

Tania Gabel, the secretary/treasurer of the BMX Club whose track was on Cambridge Park, said the proposed name change would be discussed at next month's committee meeting.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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