Friday, May 27, 2022

Warren Sanderson: City Rail Link Stations - or Mythical Symbolism to Excess

I read that the City Rail Link's Manu Whenua Forum which would appear to be a Maori Tribal Group have “gifted” to Auckland names for the two new stations and the two existing stations on the CRL.

This “gift” should be politely declined by the New Zealand Geographic Board and here is the reason why. Let’s take each station in turn:

1.    AOTEAThe proposed new name is Te Wai Horotiu. 

Firstly, for moderately mature Aucklanders this name suggests a meatworks situated just north of Hamilton, which is not a good start. It is stated that the name is from the stream that ran down the Queen Street valley to the harbour. In reality this muddy stream that ran down the valley to the harbour was not a pleasant feature of early Auckland and the street  was certainly improved for both pedestrians and horse traffic when piped underground.

Anyway the CRL does not run down in the valley (except where it crosses under Commercial Bay), it runs up under Albert Street which is almost at the top of the hill on the western side.

However the most important need is for the CRL to be successful and in this regard it must be user friendly. Easy identification of location to users and potential users is important.

 The name Aotea has 5 letters – the proposed new name has 12. Any sign-writer will tell you that it is possible to make signage more visible with bolder type in any given space with a 5 letter name than with a12 letter name.

This will be the station to alight from the train if you coming to attend the performing arts area of Aotea Square including the Dame Kiri Te Kanawa Theatre or the Town Hall.

So why not retain the name Aotea Station. It is self- explanatory, communicates effectively and above all makes it easy for passengers.

2.    KARANGAHAPE: A correction to Karanga a Hape is proposed.

This correction quite frankly is a bit precious. It breaks up and lengthens an already long name. And we are already familiar with the present form which in practise frequently gets shortened to K Road.

Let’s just keep it as at present: Karangahape

3.    Mt EDEN: The proposed new name is Maungawhau.

However, it is arguably misleading as to actual location. It (the volcano) is between 1 and 2 kilometres away from the station, depending whether you mean the foot or the top of the mountain. There is also a Maungawhau Road off Khyber Pass and this is even further away.

However, Mt Eden Station is only 80 metres from Mt Eden Road which is a main arterial road south to Mt Eden village and beyond.

Mt Eden in this form has only 6 letters, so bolder signage which can be deciphered from further away, is possible in the same given space.  Maungawhau  has 10 letters.

Maungawhau is frequently mis-spelt. Even the editor of the influential Greater Auckland Blog mis-spelt it when writing a post two or three years ago.

4.    BRITOMART: The proposed replacement name is Waitemata.

This time at least both names have the same number of letters.

However and most importantly Britomart has become quite place specific. I catch my bus from the North Shore to Britomart – a specific part of town.

The name Waitemata really covers the whole of Auckland’s Harbour and is far from place specific.

The name Britomart must remain.

General Comment:

Tourists and visitors to our shores benefit from any “easy to use” system and good and pronounceable names are a prime requisite. I have noted in the past that some Australians are uncertain and hesitant with some of our more difficult Maori names. I am certainly not advocating getting rid of them but we have spent a lot of money on the CRL and the names we choose should be user friendly.

When I see names, especially common use names changed unnecessarily I am reminded of communist or third world countries penchant for changing names for dubious or political reasons. You could call it the St Petersburg/ Leningrad Syndrome.


When looked at objectively and keeping efficiency of communication to users in mind the Manu Whenua Forum proposals fail in each instance.

Existing names must be retained.

Warren Sanderson is a retired business owner living in Campbells Bay in Auckland, who has an abiding interest in architecture and design. 


Anonymous said...

C'mon Warren, even you have to admit "Britomart" is an ugly name. :-)

Ray S said...

If the council applies these names without public consultation, they need a good spanking, starting at the top.
On the other hand, if they refuse to adopt the names, they will be labelled racist.
Spineless idiots that we are, we will roll over and acquiesce, as we always do in these matters.

Anonymous said...

how about a simpler option to 'auction' the naming rights? perhaps some of the funds from the treaty settlements can be put back to reduce govt debt (national or council). or used to resettle the homeless on queen street...

Warren S said...

Since writing this article, from information provided by the NZ Geographic Board I have found that the Board comprises 10 members of whom 5 identify as Maori and 5 would appear to be of European extraction. In view of the fact that Maoris comprise only some 16 percent of the population they are over represented on the Board which if they are of activist inclination leads to a conflict of interest.

Warren Sanderson

JaneH said...

If we want to return to democracy then naming rights should be given to those cultures/groups/persons which have contributed to the development and progress of New Zealand.

Robert Arthur said...

Even with much less than 50% representation maori gain total control. They vote as a bloc and no one now except a few totally independent retired are so bold as to question and thus incur the racist slur and cancellation.