An accusation of skulduggery, a councillor advised to practise his te reo Māori, and a tip to look at your toes when saying Tauranga.
These were just a few of the comments heard yesterday as the Tauranga City Council's policy committee heard public feedback on its proposed changes to rules for naming the city's streets and other features.
Committee chairman Steve Morris clarified the draft naming policy did not allow for existing street names to be changed unless it was after a major roading layout or infrastructure change, to correct a historical misspelling or to avoid confusion, duplication or ambiguity.
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The council received 95 written submissions and heard six oral submissions yesterday. It also received 800 responses to its online survey.
It was the survey that prompted the claim of "skulduggery".
Sent out in August, it asked questions including whether respondents supported encouraging more names significant to Tauranga mana whenua, dual naming in both English and Māori or renaming reserves.
The survey results showed majority support for each of those points.
Submitter Richard Prince questioned why the survey was promoted to iwi and hapū groups and the Tauranga Historical Society, but not to groups such as Citizen's Action Tauranga and ratepayer associations.
"My view is that this was designed by staff and promoted by them to achieve a predetermined result," he said.
"It cannot be considered indicative of views of the community at large and should be consigned to your councillor wastepaper baskets.
"This kind of skulduggery destroys ratepayer and public confidence in the council."
He went on to argue te reo was already well represented in names of Tauranga features and that Pākehā also had "every right" to see their culture, history and heritage reflected in the names in the city.
Morris defended the staff, saying the "impartial advice provided by Tauranga City Council staff is invaluable and much appreciated".
After the meeting, the council said both the survey and submission process were promoted directly to Tauranga Historical Society and iwi and hapū contacts, and to the general public via the council's social media channels, website, press releases to local media and in the weekly What's on email.
Both Prince and submitter Rob Paterson argued in the meeting that any dual naming should have the English name first, with Paterson also speaking out against any mandatory accepting of gifted names from any source.
Another submitter, Puhirake Ihaka, was asked by councillor Bill Grainger to comment on the difficulty some people of Grainger's generation had relearning the incorrect pronunciations of Māori place names they were taught as children, for example, "Towel-ranga".
Ihaka replied: "You have been exposed to te reo Māori for a long time. For you to make the statement you made perhaps indicates some sort of mental blockage."
He talked about how people travelling or working overseas managed to pick up new languages, even ones with more difficult phonetics for English speakers.
"I feel that you should try harder and practise more. Talk to us, the tangata whenua, in terms of engaging in the use of the language, which really has to be initiated from you first."
Irene Walker also spoke in an earlier submission to the need for practice.
"It does take practice. It will take time and effort for people to learn the correct pronunciation, in the same way we as Māori have, over the years, learned to pronounce pākehā kupu [words], English kupu."
Speaking to the same point, Rev John Hebenton encouraged people to "look at your toes when thinking about how to say Tauranga".
"No one is in pain, you don't need to say 'ow'."
Written submissions included arguments for and against the changes, with some claiming they would cause confusion and others saying they would better reflect the city's shared history.
Several said the council should be focusing on more important things.
All submissions are available on the council's website.