Name change proposed for Phoenix Carpark

Contractors are working at turning the former carpark into a new urban greenspace. Video and photos by Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Click the image above to watch the video

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.

You may also like...


Park is a disgrace to council processes

Posted on 11-12-2018 08:39 | By jed

This council is an embarrassment. They collect needless ’beautification’ taxes , then when pressed to do something with the millions they have collected they run around like headless chickens and come up with this ridiculous idea. This council hates cars, as evidenced by the sheer number of carparks they have removed around mt maunganui. 2 of my favourite parks recently had yellow lines painted over them....why? Been fine for decades but some idiot removes it!

Council can call this

Posted on 02-12-2018 13:06 | By earlybird

but many of us will continue to refer to it as Phoenix Park. So no big deal.

spell check updated

Posted on 01-12-2018 00:29 | By Wonkytonk

another silly name that no one can say, it will always be known as...

Good on ‘em

Posted on 29-11-2018 06:06 | By Rochelais

I am very pleased to see this carpark being put to better use. We are well overdue some good quality urban parks to make shopping in our retail areas more enjoyable. And the name - well that’s good too. A nod to our history that we largely ignore.


Posted on 28-11-2018 20:04 | By Maryfaith

Where? Can’t believe a word this council says! Compare the cost of this concrete jungle with flowers and lawn. Get environmental friendly! Never thought I would say that but it needs saying in this instance.

How ridiculous

Posted on 28-11-2018 08:47 | By The Sage

They will never get a sign large enough for the name and will probably have to take up a car park to house it. This Council has gone down the drain. I can just see people trying to say they will meet someone at the Te Papa.................................. carpark. Phoenix carpark it should remain. Where is the promised green space?


Posted on 27-11-2018 22:10 | By Slim Shady

Never mind all the deaths on the road or workplace, or domestic violence, or a raft of serious issues, what stirs Kiwis to comment is the name of a park! Take a look at yourselves.

Mr ken

Posted on 27-11-2018 14:58 | By pamken

when is this council going to stop pandering to the maori lets call it a name most of us can say.


Posted on 27-11-2018 14:31 | By mlangdon

How do you even pronounce that for goodness sake, just leave it as it is, Phoenix Park is fine.

Phoenix Park

Posted on 27-11-2018 14:16 | By cptn scully

How come council worked with the two hapu and not the rest of Tauranga people Smacks of favouritism (call that what you like) to me. Just come up with a simple name!


Posted on 27-11-2018 14:09 | By Maryfaith

Preposterous! Ridiculous! Nonsensical! ..... are works that spring to mind. And to think the Council were going to sneak this past us is unbelievable! Call it "Central Park" and please the masses - not just the precious few who seem to have this council by the tail!

Grey space still waiting for the green

Posted on 27-11-2018 13:46 | By red

What was promised as a greenspace, looks more like a greyspace. In fact it looks like only about 10% of it will be grass! I’m not sure how this can be classed as a park, why so much concrete? I along with everyone else will await the final unveiling, which is supposed to be late December, and I am preparing myself to be seriously underwhelmed. All it needs is some white chalk lines for it to look like a carpark once again!

Phoenix Park

Posted on 27-11-2018 13:36 | By deniseg

Another unpronounceable Maori name foisted upon us by the do-gooders on the Council, much like the replacement name for the BOP Polytechnic. Just stick with Phoenix Park, nothing wrong in keeping an old historical name associated with that space ( not everyone thinks of Phoenix palms as being pest plants ).


Posted on 27-11-2018 13:32 | By dumbkof2

If we have to have a name change at least give it a english name the everyone can say including tourists.


Posted on 27-11-2018 13:10 | By Raewyn

There is nothing wrong with the current name! What is the suggested name mean and how would any visitors know!


Posted on 27-11-2018 12:46 | By Dino

Just leave it as it is - there is no need to change it - whats wrong with it anyway? A green space? I see very little green space - more like a grey space of concrete....

Consult with Maori ONLY! A recipe for division.

Posted on 27-11-2018 12:33 | By Murray.Guy

The local business and wider community is TOTALLY left out of the loop and Ngai Tukairangi and Ngāti Kuku, included 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. This is NOT the way forward irrespective of anyone’s concept of ’partnership’, as this serves to only divide and further feed the mindset of entitlement rather than partnership, inclusiveness. I wonder if Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout supported Cr. Morris’s resolution to consult the community as he clearly demonstrates a predetermined mindset again!


Posted on 27-11-2018 12:23 | By Gigilo

"The place of the circling birds" is a bit much and you won’t find any fish there, I hope. People may think they should feed the birds and we all want seagulls circling over our heads when taking in the transformation - not. Easy fix the new name is to be Phoenix Park - "pheonix obtains new life by arising from the ashes (asphalt) of it’s predecessor" also meaning resurrection or paradise. There are some of us who lament the elimination of oh so handy car parks, including the local businesses I would surmise.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to make a comment. Login Now