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Name proposal ?a good balance

Opinion Piece
Editorial

The council proposal for Gisborne’s coastal bay to be renamed Turanganui a Kiwa/Poverty Bay is a good one — officially reclaiming the original name for our place, while retaining our other historical and, in the case of Gisborne, widely-known markers.

It is a compromise solution to community desires for overdue change that recognises and promotes our bicultural heritage, and for equally strongly-held community desires for continuity.

The city will still be called Gisborne. That will be disappointing for those Maori who would like our city to adopt the dual name of Turanganui a Kiwa/Gisborne.

Kiwa was the high priest responsible for the Horouta waka landing here, bringing the ancestors of three of our district’s iwi here from Hawaiki. Turanganui a Kiwa means “the great (or long) standing place of Kiwa”, and has been the Maori name for the Gisborne area for about 700 years.

The original European settlement here was named Turanga, a shortened version. Apparently it was changed later to Gisborne because it sounded too much like Tauranga. In a more enlightened time that would have been resolved simply by adopting the full name, rather than that of a government bureaucrat turned colonial secretary who it seems never visited.

Of course Gisborne, and the colloquial Gizzy, are now very popular names for our city.

Adding Turanganui a Kiwa to Gisborne would face a lot of opposition around issues such as confusion and a perceived obstacle to tourism, “political correctness” and cost.

Those concerned about the cost of this proposed dual name for our coastal bay feature can relax. Costs for the council involve historical and cultural research, the consultation process now under way, work on the application to the New Zealand Geographic Board, and changes to signs — although a council spokeswoman says that would happen “practically as signs are due for renewal”. Marine maps will need to be updated, but that will not be a cost for ratepayers. The Government and local authorities will officially recognise the dual name, and new maps will be updated.