Kirikiriroa proposal a no-goer
It’s looking like a no to Kirikiriroa City Council.
News of Hamilton Mayor Andrew King’s suggested name change spread fast on Monday, generating hundreds of online comments and poll clicks.
Most of them are saying no, along with city councillors – one of whom said the idea was a whim that was ‘‘making Hamilton look like a circus’’.
But other online commenters point out Tainui never gave permission for Kirikiriroa to become Hamilton in the first place.
King might have his work cut out to win political support, as his council colleagues think a name change is a bad idea – at least for now.
Concerns about the cost and the belief that council had bigger fish to fry were a recurring theme, though five councillors were open to discussing the idea once the long-term plan was out of the way.
But the city would have to change its name first, councillor Angela O’Leary said.
‘‘[Local government] legislation stipulates that cities must have ‘city council’ in the name and then the name of the city . . . How can this advice not have been given to the mayor? And I have to ask myself: What is this distraction really about?’’
The ‘‘un-needed distraction’’ caught everyone on the hop, Cr James Casson said.
‘‘We owe it to the ratepayer to work hard on trying to keep the rates increase down and put them and the city’s interests first, not entertain some whim that is quite frankly making Hamilton look like a circus.’’
Cr Geoff Taylor was of a similar mind. ‘‘It’s so not a priority that I think it’s ludicrous to even raise it as an option right now,’’ he said.
And Cr Leo Tooman couldn’t see a reason to change the name when council had always been known as Hamilton City Council.
That’s the term people would generally use in English, Deputy Mayor Martin Gallagher said, but people could use the Kirikiriroa version in te reo.
He disagreed with the mayor’s suggestion but supported work already under way to better celebrate Ma¯ ori heritage and language.
The most tongue-in-cheek take came from Cr Mark Bunting, who believes it’s the wrong time to talk about changing to Kirikiriroa.
‘‘I am a wee bit offended,’’ he said, ‘‘because I did suggest many months ago renaming Huntington to Buntington and this has jumped the queue!’’
About 1700 people had responded to an unscientific Stuff poll by Thursday afternoon, and 80 per cent preferred to remain with the Hamilton City Council moniker.
A second poll, on Neighbourly, had a similar result: 87 per cent of the 153 voters wanted Hamilton to stay.
The New Zealand Taxpayers’ Union launched a petition against the name change. The group urged the mayor to deal with ‘‘Hamilton’s rates crisis’’ and warned that changes can be expensive. The comparatively smaller Stratford District Council budgeted at least
$65,000 to change its logo, and Auckland’s tourism agency spent
$500,000 updating its slogan.
Online comments were numerous and mostly against the idea.
One Neighbourly commenter said the name Kirkiriroa only covered part of Hamilton.
Another summed up the mood of many: ‘‘Don’t waste money on unnecessary changes. Won’t need to raise the rates then.’’
The prospect of two years of 9.5 per cent rate rises was on the mind of many Facebook commenters.
‘‘Rather than spending 1000s on a new name,’’ wrote one, ‘‘can we just start with mowing the parks and walkways please? Basic needs before luxury wants, thanks.’’ Several suggested the move was to distract people from rates rises and council finances.
For others, it was a matter of logic. ‘‘You live in the Waikato, you have a Waikato Regional Council.
‘‘You live in Hamilton, so you have a Hamilton City Council. It isn’t rocket science,’’ said one online commenter.
But some commenters were in favour, including one who said the change would stop the city being confused with other Hamiltons in the world.
Another said it was up to the local Ma¯ ori community.
‘‘If it goes back to the Ma¯ ori name, embrace it. Who cares about the cost for putting things right? Bet councils waste a lot of money on stupid things – spend it on something progressive.’’
They were backed up by a further comment which pointed out Tainui never gave permission for the town’s name to be changed to Hamilton.
‘‘It’s so not a priority that I think it’s ludicrous to even raise it as an option right now.’’
Cr Geoff Taylor