Matthew Martin is a senior reporter at the Rotorua Daily Post

Councillor explains City Focus blunder (+ video)

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Councillor Karen Hunt is leading the Rotorua Lakes Council's inner city revitalisation project and is asking for patience as the old City Focus gets a face lift.
Councillor Karen Hunt is leading the Rotorua Lakes Council's inner city revitalisation project and is asking for patience as the old City Focus gets a face lift.

The councillor in charge of Rotorua's inner city revitalisation says a new name for the former City Focus is still on the cards after a recent communication blunder saw it prematurely named Manawa.

But, that won't happen until after the project has been finished.

Last month Rotorua Lakes Council announced it would be changing the name of the City Focus to Manawa, meaning "heart" in te reo Maori.

But the next day council chief executive Geoff Williams said the name was not official and a final decision on the re-naming was yet to be made.

He apologised to the mayor and councillors and took full responsibility for the mistake.

This was after the council had produced a brochure announcing Manawa as the new name and explaining why the name was chosen.

"The proper process wasn't followed ... the final decision will be up to the council," Mr Williams said at the time.

Councillor Karen Hunt, inner city portfolio leader, was on holiday overseas at the time and yesterday told the Rotorua Daily Post she had been updated on the project and asked for patience while it was completed.

"Interestingly, there is no record of any formal naming of the City Focus, it just became the name in common usage - like Soccer Park or Rangi Motors on Te Ngae Rd - it became that because people simply started calling it that."

Ms Hunt said she understood there was a healthy interest in the new name and people had become connected to the space.

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She said Mr Williams was right to take responsibility for the mistake and she suspected the cost to print the brochure was "not significant" as it was done in-house.

"With Manawa many people actually supported it and thought it was an apt name. But, if we go down the path of officially naming it, it will only work if it sticks with people."

She said the council had no policy of giving councillors the opportunity to name intersections, streets or parks unless they were being named after someone such as a former mayor or Sir Howard Morrison.

"Some people had been thinking of it as Manawa within the inner city focus group, that includes council staff.

"I'm not going to do a head-hunt and it's been blown a little bit out of proportion, considering councillors don't get to name anything, but it think it's fabulous the community really want to be part of the revitalisation.

"The process got a little ahead of itself. We were hoping to have the whole thing done and dusted by mid-September but due to our construction industry being so busy it just didn't happen."

She said people needed to give the council time to complete the project.

"It's a really exciting project, but requires the community to have a little bit of patience and support us in this significant lift for the face of our city.

"This space is being refurbished for our younger families who wanted to design an inner city space that reflects their needs and how they interact with the world."

Ms Hunt said she would be happy to have a new name signed off by the council.

"But, it's likely to be the new council and after the elections.

"It could end up as Manawa anyway. But, none of that will happen until we have completed the refurbishment - a lot of that depends on contractors - but we hope to have it done by mid-next year."

- Rotorua Daily Post

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