True to the stereotype the rest of Auckland has of our dear white settler cuzzies of Howick, all hell has broken out in that little corner that would be forever England, at being labelled Te Irirangi. That's what the new Super City ward has been christened by the Local Government Commission, and my, are the natives restless.

Not as restless perhaps, as they would have been if the commission had read the Wikipedia entry for the suburb and taken a fancy to the "derogatory" nickname Chowick, which the popular web-based encyclopedia says outsiders use, in recognition of the Asian immigrants who have flocked to the area.

But the name Te Irirangi is quite bad enough for a suburb which thought it was about to cut loose its uneasy ties with brown Manukau City, and retreat back into its oak trees and fencible cottage past.

The locals have already had two "extraordinary" meetings of their combined local boards and paid $3700 for a survey which, surprise surprise, shows that only 5 per cent want Te Irirangi, compared to 58 per cent for Howick and 31 per cent for the jaw-breaking Howick/Pakuranga/Botany.

Conservative would-be Super City councillor Jami-Lee Ross, 24, told a local paper: "It's an appalling name ... it is the name of a chief and a road. It is not appropriate."

He said the poll endorsed his choice of Howick, which was "simple, easy to say, represents our history, and our future."

Now if he'd been referring to Eyjafjallajokull, the Icelandic volcano which has recently brought European aviation to a halt, I might have agreed with his roundabout complaint, that Maori is too hard to pronounce. But Te Irirangi is hardly a tongue twister. Very mellifluous in fact. It also represents local history every bit as much as Howick does.

Tara Te Irirangi was the area's principal chief at the time of European settlement in the early 19th century. He is already recognised in the name Otara, and in the local Te Irirangi Drive. Ngai Tai representatives made submissions for his name to be recognised in the new city set-up and their wish has been granted.

But the local white folk prefer to think that history began only from the day they arrived. Locals like Howick and Pakuranga Times' managing editor Reay Neben who burst forth in her organ declaring herself to be "incensed."

She said: "The name has come from nowhere. It doesn't mean anything to people who have lived here for a long time. We're the historic area of Auckland ... we have lost our identity."

What she is wailing about is losing the identity of people who haven't lived there for very long at all. Certainly not as long as the kinfolk of Mr Irirangi.

Howick Community Board chairman Jim Donald gave an equally white-tinted view of history to Mrs Neben's paper.

"A long time ago Te Irirangi was around this country, and other chiefs have come and gone. The Super City is supposed to be looking to the future."

If he's such a fan of looking to the future, then why the obsession with retaining Howick.

Howick is named after the 3rd Earl Grey, Viscount Howick of Howick Hall, Northumberland, England, who as Secretary for the Colonies was responsible for the Royal New Zealand Fencible Corps immigration scheme which brought the settlers to the lands then occupied by Mr Irirangi and his people in the mid-19th century.

The chief was a friend to the newcomers, learning their language and supporting the new settler government. That's the history.

When Mrs Neben bemoans the loss of identity and a name that has come from nowhere, it reveals the depth of historical ignorance abroad in Howick. It also demonstrates an awful insecurity.

Mr Donald rightly says the Super City is supposed to be looking to the future. But it's about going there together, and we can't do that unless we acknowledge and respect our pasts.

Howick Village will always be Howick Village. The fencible cottages will remain a symbol of white settlement. No one is calling for names like Howick or fencible to be expunged from the record and anyone who dares speak them. to be punished or mocked.

Why then, is it so hard to name a Super City ward after the man who shared his land with those first white settlers?