Question: What's long, unnecessarily complicated and ill-suited to its primary function?

Answer: The process taken by Tauranga City Council to adopt a new name for its controversial redevelopment of the old Phoenix carpark.

The name, Te Papa O Ngā Manu Porotakataka, meaning "the place of circling birds" was adopted in the tragi-comedy that was 2018's last full council meeting, ahead of a blessing for the park scheduled for Friday.

The elected members got creative in their attempts to find a way out from between the rock and hard place they had created by first approving the name then sending it out for a hurried and ill-conceived public consultation.


It generated an entirely predictable negative reaction that left them with the option of offending either their iwi partners or their voting public.

Giving the place two official names - one short, one long/one formal, one colloquial (or was that colonial?) - was presented more than once as a practical solution. Councillors were designing signage on the fly. Come on. This isn't how good decisions get made.

In trying to keep everyone happy and leaving this to the very last moment, the practical points of a name seemed forgotten.

At 26 characters, 13 syllables, the name is too long.

Te Papa O Ngā Manu Porotakataka is beautiful and meaningful and does roll off the tongue if you try it (you may as well) but being those things is not the primary function of the name of a park.

Nor is its main function to be attractive to cruise ship visitors.

It's a mapped location. People - those that will use it on a regular basis - need to be able to remember it and to communicate it to get to that location.

Having a name that reflected the history of the area is valuable, but surely there was some middle ground to be found that did not sacrifice the practical purpose of a name for a public asset.


No one has been well served by this process - not tangata whenua or the council's staff who will cop flack for this despite, it appears, following policy and being forced to run a doomed consultation - and not the Mount community.

The name will become another source of resentment over this development. Add it to the list.