Stephanie is the Rotorua Daily Post's head of news

'Long way to go' before new polytech name confirmed

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Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua. Photo/file
Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua. Photo/file

Nervousness about the proposed new name for the Bay of Plenty's merged polytechnics has prompted some of the region's MPs to urge that the new organisation tread carefully.

Rotorua's Waiariki Institute of Technology and Tauranga's Bay of Plenty Polytechnic merged on May 1 to become the fourth-largest technical institute in New Zealand.

But the disclosure that the new institution was proposed to be called Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology has sparked controversy.

Tauranga's Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout said he felt people would struggle with the name and he regretted the loss of location in the name.

"The best thing would be something easily said every day."

Rotorua MP Todd McClay said the new institution's council needed to make sure it was an open, public process.

People identified with the institutions and the council needed to consider geographical recognition in the name.

Every indication had so far been that the new institution, operating under the temporary name Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic, would engage with the public, he said.

"They will get a sense of where the public view is," Mr McClay said. "They should continue to engage with the public to ensure they deliver to everyone."

It was important that the council was flexible and open enough to consider every position that came from the public, Mr McClay said.

Tauranga MP Simon Bridges said the name was "less important than the process".

"It needs to be a name that the Bay can identify with and accepts," he said.

"I would be really interested in hearing locals views on the name."

Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said he did not have a strong view but he suspected there would be people that did not like the proposed name.

Mr Muller said it was always a challenge when two well-established entities merged and there were concerns from two distinct communities of interest of what to call the new institution.

The man who will ultimately sign off on the new name, Minister for Tertiary Education, Skills and Employment Steven Joyce, also said he did not have a strong view on what the name should be.

"I have asked that the new name, the logo and the way it will be presented be fully developed before it is gazetted, and that the finished article is something all stakeholders can identify with."

Interim chief executive Dr Neil Barns confirmed there had been some unrest around the name.

"I don't think it is just a Tauranga issue. I think for many people when they initially hear the name they don't like it, but most turn their opinions around when they understand the name's meaning."

Meetings around the name were still being held and there was "a long way to go before we reach a higher level of comfort", he said.

"I still believe it will become the new name but it will be a matter of whether it has a regional identifier.

"People are very attached to the names they have associated with for a long time so, as with any change, we need to give it time."

Council chairwoman Cathy Cooney said the council was working with an external agency to create a new identity for the institution. It included all elements of the name and possible geographical references.

- Rotorua Daily Post

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