Burn­ing ques­tion: what’s re­ally in a


Street names are signs of the times.

They are more than just a marker of where our homes, of­fices and favourite shops can be found. Ev­ery street name has a tale to tell.

From them we can de­duce who our early set­tlers were, what was im­por­tant to them and what is im­por­tant to us now.

Early Welling­ton street names in­cluded Aurora Tce, Bolton Tce, Cuba St and Ori­en­tal Bay. They were named af­ter the New Zealand Com­pany ships that brought the first wave of early set­tlers.

New Zealand was set­tled dur­ing the reign of Queen Vic­to­ria and ties to the monar­chy were strong, so it is not sur­pris­ing that many roads were given re­gal monikers.

Queen and Vic­to­ria streets, roads and av­enues can be found in towns and cities up and down the coun­try. In the Welling­ton re­gion there is Queen St in Up­per Hutt and in Is­land Bay; Queens Drive, Lower Hutt and Lyall Bay; Queens Rd, Waikanae; and Queen’s Ave, Porirua.

And Welling­ton, Up­per Hutt and Lower Hutt each have a Vic­to­ria St. How­ever, nei­ther Queen nor Vic­to­ria are the county’s most pop­u­lar street names. That gong goes to Beach Rd and Ge­orge St. Ac­cord­ing to Ter­ralink In­ter­na­tional data there are 76 Beach Rds and 76 Ge­orge Sts na­tion­wide.

Tak­ing away the ‘‘street’’ part of the name, Beach drops to sec­ond place, be­hind Park, but still ap­pears 101 times. Ge­orge dis­ap­pears al­to­gether.

In the Welling­ton re­gion, Porirua and Paekakariki have a Beach Rd and Is­land Bay and Lower Hutt have a Beach St.

Lambton Quay was ini­tially known as Beach St. It was the fore­shore, hence the name, un­til the 1855 earth­quake lifted the land along the north­west­ern side of the har­bour.

The street was re­named Lambton Quay for John Lambton, the first Earl of Durham and the first chair­man of di­rec­tors of the New Zealand Com­pany.

So, who is re­spon­si­ble for street names these days? And do the res­i­dents even get a say?

City and dis­trict coun­cils have the re­spon­si­bil­ity for nam­ing roads, walk­ways and pri­vate roads.

Each coun­cil has its own poli­cies but must ad­here to the Aus­tralian and New Zealand stan­dard for ad­dress and street names.

Welling­ton City Coun­cil en­ter­prise data man­age­ment team leader Michael Brownie said the stan­dard had just been up­dated and one of the main changes was that lo­cal iwi must be con­sulted when con­sid­er­ing names.

In the past five years the coun­cil has ap­proved 20 street names, of which 14 were public roads. The oth­ers were pri­vate rights of way and pedes­trian walk­ways or came about be­cause of new road lay­out. Part of Vi­vian St be­came an ad­di­tion to Buller St af­ter Vi­vian St was split by Karo Drive.

In 2006, Te Aro school pupils won a coun­cil-run com­pe­ti­tion to find a name for the stretch of the in­ner-city by­pass be­tween Cuba and Wil­lis streets. The pupils told us the ‘‘K’’ rep­re­sented kids and ‘‘Aro’’ their school. More re­cently, names have been given to streets in a new Woodridge sub­di­vi­sion: Red Beach Ave, Tea Tree Lane and Lace­bark Lane, which were ap­proved in Au­gust.

‘‘They fol­low the tree names theme that has been used in Woodridge,’’ Mr Brownie said.

‘‘St Vin­cent Pl, St Lu­cia Pl and St Kitts Pl were named in 2009 and fol­low the Caribbean theme for Gre­nada Vil­lage.’’ He said sev­eral Welling­ton sub­urbs were con­sid­ered to have a theme.

Many Brook­lyn roads are named for Amer­i­can po­lit­i­cal fig­ures, usu­ally pres­i­dents, and in­clude Washington Ave, Jef­fer­son St, Garfield St and Lin­coln St.

Khan­dal­lah has an In­dian theme, thanks to set­tler Cap­tain James An­drew, who had served in the In­dian Army. The sub­urb was named for Khan­dal­lah, Ra­jasthan, and has streets named af­ter other ar­eas in In­dia, in­clud­ing Burma Rd, Simla Cres and Delhi Cres.

Karori and Ngaio streets are named af­ter early res­i­dents, Is­land Bay af­ter Euro­pean rivers (Sev­ern St), and Hataitai af­ter na­tive trees (Hinau St and Rata, Matai and Rewa roads).

Mr Brownie said when con­sid­er­ing a name, the coun­cil dis­cour­aged those that were sim­i­lar to ex­ist­ing ones. The coun­cil has re­cently been asked to con­sider chang­ing the name of Her­ald Tce, af­ter a res­i­dent said it was fre­quently con­fused with Her­ald St. Both are in Ber­ham­pore.

‘‘We rec­om­mended he spoke to neigh­bours so we would know if oth­ers wanted a change be­fore star­ing the for­mal process for a name change.

‘‘Most of the num­bers used by Her­ald Tce are also used in Her­ald St, so it is very likely peo­ple look­ing for Her­ald Tce ad­dresses would look at Her­ald St and not re­alise there is an­other with a sim­i­lar name,’’ Mr Brown said.

The coun­cil con­sid­ered emer­gency ser­vices when nam­ing or re­nam­ing a road. A name was not likely to be se­lected if it would be too hard for emer­gency ser­vices’ call cen­tres to recog­nise.

‘‘For ex­am­ple, in 1990, when Ha­nia St was named, the fol­low­ing spellings were con­sid­ered: Xavia, Kha­nia, Chanea and Ha­nia.

‘‘Af­ter con­sul­ta­tion with the Cre­tans As­so­ci­a­tion of New Zealand, the spell­ing Ha­nia was se­lected,’’ Mr Brownie said.

The Greek com­mu­nity has long links with Mt Vic­to­ria, where Ha­nia St is found. Hence their in­volve­ment in nam­ing Ha­nia St.

The time taken to name a street or road var­ied, Mr Brownie said. ‘‘If the name is for a pri­vate right-of-way and all the af­fected res­i­dents agree with a pro­posal, then a name can be ap­proved in less than a month from the ini­tial re­quest.’’ It can take longer if those af­fected do not agree. Although the coun­cil makes the final decision, if there are dif­fer­ent sug­ges­tions, all af­fected par­ties – in­clud­ing emer­gency ser­vices and iwi – will be con­sulted.

‘‘The name has to be ap­proved by the coun­cil and the coun­cil must make sure that a name is not go­ing to be of­fen­sive or con­fus­ing.’’

Mr Brownie said it could take as long as six months to ap­prove a street name.


STREET ART: Ter­ralink In­ter­na­tional staff cre­ated a piece of vis­ual art de­pict­ing New Zealand’s most com­mon street names.


OLD TIME: Lo­cal teacher Wil­liam Holmes painted this early scene of what is now Lambton Quay but was first known as Beach St.

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