Tauranga City Council is proposing to adopt the name Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka for what has colloquially been called the Phoenix Carpark.
Although the recommendation was for Council to adopt the new name at the meeting held on November 20, 2018, the proposal has now gone out for further consultation with the surrounding community.
The park is currently undergoing development as a new urban open space for Mount Maunganui, and is scheduled to be completed in December 2018.
The Mount’s new urban open space is considered a passive reserve and would normally by default be named after the street on which it is located. However, the open space being developed at 398 Maunganui Road - the block housing the Mount Library and Zespri Office - will be named Maunganui Road Reserve.
When a reserve named after the street already exists, then other criteria is considered when selecting an appropriate name, such as, the identity of Tauranga; the historical significance of the area; Maori cultural significance; people important in relation to the history of the area, after they are deceased; or events, people and places of international significance to Tauranga.
Usually Council’s General Manager Environmental Services approves proposed names, however given the high interest of the Councillors in the project, this decision was referred to Council.
The name Phoenix Carpark was never the formal name of the space; it evolved over time and referred to the phoenix palms on the site and to the 1990’s Mount revitalisation project, Project Phoenix.
During 2018, eight Phoenix palms have been removed from the centre of the site to provide opportunities for native planting and to create a more flexible multi use space. The Phoenix palm is recognised as a pest plant by Tauranga City Council. The removal of the palms was also required for Council to replace the stormwater system, which had been damaged by the palm roots.
Works at Mount Maunganui’s new urban green space development started on July 2, with the site fenced off. Construction fences were turned into pieces of art by six Mount Maunganui schools as part of the Mount Enviro Fest in July, organised by Mount Maunganui’s CBD membership association, Mount Mainstreet.
Following the removal of the Phoenix palms, construction of the new space took place, including the stormwater system upgrade. The majority of plants chosen to replace the palms are being planted around the perimeter, have less extensive root systems and will have a lower impact on everything underground.
Throughout the current redevelopment, Council staff have worked with Ngai Tukairangi and Ngāti Kuku, from the concept phase through to detailed design and construction. Both hapu were asked to suggest a name for the space that referred to history of the area and was of significance to them.
The name that was proposed - Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka – means ‘The Place of the Circling Birds’ and refers to the tradition of finding where to fish through watching birds circling above the fish in the water.
“’Te Papa’ means ‘the place of’, ‘o Nga Manu’ indicates birds, and ‘Porotakataka’ references the action of circling,” says Tauranga City Council’s Māori engagement manager, Carlo Ellis. “This relates to local stories about Maori navigating to find fish by following the actions of birds flying and circling over the water.”
This concept of circling birds was felt to be appropriate, given that the space will be a place where people will congregate and eat together.
Carlo explained how the name was developed.
“What we did at City Council was follow a process,” says Carlo. “In naming the space we sought out advice from local hapu. The first piece of information they gave Council was that the area was known as Hopukiore. This is also the name that’s alongside Mount Drury, so it made no sense to have the same name for two areas a couple of hundred metres away from each other.
“The hapu then consulted with Kaumatua with the objective to give some context to the place. They started to talk about many of the activities that happened around there. There was a lot of reference to birds, whether it was looking out to sea; looking to see where the birds are that tell you where to fish; and of course today, people like to go fishing.
“Just up the road is Omanu. The word ‘omanu’ also refers to the activity of the birds around the place. To give some local flavour to it, there was the circling of the birds, which could be seen out to sea. There are also a couple of legends and history that hapu drew from.”
Carlo admits that locals will probably adopt the name alongside a more colloquial name and gave the examples of Mauao also being called The Mount, Leisure Island also being known as Moturiki, and even Otumoetai being called Oats by some.
“People who grew up with Leisure Island have a connection with that name, whereas today many children know it as Moturiki. Both of those names can live on. Here, the Phoenix palms will be gone and many people will still know it as Phoenix Park, and that’s okay to remember that.
“There’s a lot of confidence in the community that people can adapt to longer names,” says Carlo. “When you look at Otumoetai and understand that the word means ‘the glassy water of the harbour’ as you drive over the causeway in the morning to work, you find that you have a connection with that.”
“The story behind the name is quite special and should be of interest to locals and visitors alike,” says Tauranga Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout. “I acknowledge that the name is long but shortening it impacts on its complete meaning. I do expect that a shortened and more colloquial name will emerge organically over time.”
“We love our native bird life, so the name has those connotations around the sea and the relationship with birds,” says Carlo, explaining how a name can become meaningful. “We’re strong enough as a community to be able to adapt and cope with that.
Tauranga City transformation and strategic advisors had assessed the proposal to name the Mount’s new urban space Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka as having low significance under Council’s Significance and Engagement Policy, and had recommended no wider engagement or consultation was required.
Steve Morris however moved for further consultation.
“The recommendation was to adopt the name then and there at the meeting,” says Steve. “I moved that Council consult with Mount North residents and retailers and that is what we are doing.”
“The councillors have asked us to go out and consult with the community, and we have a short time frame to do that in,” says Carlo.