The name of an extinct native bird - Te Huia - is being floated as the name for the new Hamilton to Auckland commuter rail service which is due to launch in July.

Hamilton City councillors will be asked to vote next week on a name for the train service which has so far been widely referred to unofficially as the Tron Express.

Te Huia was a bird tapu (sacred) to Māori with its white-tipped tail feathers being highly prized.

The Te Huia is believed to be extinct. The last sighting of the bird was in 1907.

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The bird was noted for having beautiful tail feathers, orange wattles, and a long curved beak.

The Tron Express has been a popular suggestion as a name for the new commuter rail service. Photo / Supplied
The Tron Express has been a popular suggestion as a name for the new commuter rail service. Photo / Supplied

According to Wikipedia, it was wiped out because of over hunting to procure huia skins for mounted specimens and their tail feathers for hat decorations.

Another major cause was widespread deforestation of the lowlands of the North Island by European settlers to create pasture.

Last December the Passenger Rail Service Project Governance Group met and the matter
of a name for the start-up rail service was discussed. At this meeting the name Te Huia was considered.

The idea to name the new commuter train Te Huia is now finding favour and common ground between the parties involved in the project and is the name preferred by Manu Whenua following consultation in November.

In her chair's report for Tuesday's Hamilton City Council's meeting, the first of the year, Mayor Paula Southgate is asking city councillors to endorse the name Te Huia to support the Governance Group in making a final decision on the matter.

Previous names suggested were, Tron Express, Tron, H2A, Waikato Link, and Tūhono (meaning to link or connect) Waikato.

One of the carriages being refurbished in Wellington for the Hamilton to Auckland train. Photo / Supplied
One of the carriages being refurbished in Wellington for the Hamilton to Auckland train. Photo / Supplied

The Hamilton to Auckland rail service will launch this year, with the new Rotokauri Transport Centre being built beside The Base, Te Rapa. Upgrades are also under way at Huntly train station.

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The Labour led Government also announced yesterday the electrification of the tracks between Papakura to Pukekohe starting late this year, which could benefit the Hamilton to Auckland rail service.

It is the overall future plan to have rapid rail between Hamilton to Auckland which would require the electrification of the track from Pukekohe to Frankton.