WHAT'S in a name? Well, quite a lot it seems.

As of two weeks ago, Waiariki campuses as well as the former Bay of Plenty Polytechnic in Tauranga have been officially known as Waiariki Bay of Plenty Polytechnic.

But don't get too comfortable with that - it's just a temporary moniker until the final name can be agreed upon.

And that's a process that has not been without controversy.


The proposed name - Toi Ohomai Institute of Technology - has met with resistance from some quarters. According to opponents, some people may struggle to pronounce the name, while others say it should have a geographic reference in there.

The first argument, in my opinion, is ridiculous.

I am not a te reo speaker; far from it. My attempts at pronouncing some Maori names have resulted in hilarity among my Rotorua colleagues at times. But the point is I try, and I get there or thereabouts most of the time.

Whether or not Toi Ohomai is hard to say is completely beside the point (though for the record, I cracked it after a couple of careful attempts). Perhaps those opposing it for that reason could instead put their efforts into learning how to pronounce Maori, an official language of New Zealand.

The geographic locator argument does have merit, but the words Bay of Plenty don't necessarily need to be there in order for the new institute to build a distinct identity and reputation. Just look at Massey or Victoria universities.

Rotorua and Tauranga, despite being just an hour's drive apart, are about as different demographically and culturally as any two New Zealand cities could be. So merging institutes from the two cities was always going to throw up challenges, the name being just one of them.

So what about sticking with the temporary name? It's hardly exciting or creative and it's a bit of a mouthful but it is what it says on the tin. It retains the Waiariki identity that is so important to Rotorua and there is no doubting where in the country it is situated.

But that would be an easy way out.

If the merger is to be a success, it needs an inspiring and fresh identity. That starts with an inspiring and fresh name.

As we report today, it's not yet a done deal and if there is widespread opposition to the name - from all parts of the region - then of course the institute's council should look at alternatives.

But in my view, Toi Ohomai rolls off the tongue just fine.