Wrong names to stay on Wellington streets

NAME SHAME: Name shame: George Holmes says "Majoribanks St'' is spelt incorrectly and should be changed.
NAME SHAME: Name shame: George Holmes says "Majoribanks St'' is spelt incorrectly and should be changed.

Two Wellington streets, named after wealthy Brits who never set foot in New Zealand, are likely to keep their misspelled names.

It comes as two other Wellington locations take a step closer to getting dual Maori and European names, and an unnamed ridge gets a proposed Maori name.

Wellington man George Holmes believes the names of Majoribanks and Nairn streets should be changed to reflect the names of those they were named after – early 1840s New Zealand Company directors Stewart Marjoribanks and Alexander Nairne.

Both men never came to New Zealand but helped fund European settlement.

"It's extremely poor taste to mangle their names," Mr Holmes said.

Wellington City Council spokesman Richard MacLean said council staff would not recommend the proposed changes.

It would cost too much, had little support, and many documents would need changing, he said.

Mr Holmes, a "geographic name researcher" who had got at least 87 New Zealand placenames changed, said the matter should be put to a referendum.

The cost and inconvenience of a name change would be relatively minor, he said.

Council data management boss Michael Brownie said name changes were usually not considered unless supported by residents and there was good reason. It did, however, survey Nairn St residents – 53 per cent of whom did not want a change.

"After seeing the reaction of the Nairn St residents I am not prepared to recommend a change for Majoribanks St unless we receive a petition signed by most of the residents and property owners," Mr Brownie said.

Shae Moleta, owner of Ambeli in Majoribanks St, said his family had lived in the street for 60 years. He would not resist a name change "but I can't see the point".

A change in spelling would be "huge infrastructure silliness".

He understood the correct pronunciation of Majoribanks was "maach-banks".

Meanwhile, the New Zealand Geographic Board Nga Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa has proposed dual naming Miramar Peninsula/Te Motu Kairangi and Hutt River/Te Awa Kairangi.

Dual naming means Maori and English names must be used together in official documents.

Miramar Peninsula was an island at the time of the Ngai Tara settlement, and was known as Te Motu Kairangi. The peninsula took its current name, Miramar – meaning "behold the sea" in Spanish – in the 1800s.

Te Awa Kairangi, meaning precious or esteemed river, had other Maori names before being named after New Zealand Company chairman Sir William Hutt.

"Assigning dual names to two of the features recognises that placenames have equal and special significance to both Maori and non-Maori," board chairman Don Grant said.

An unnamed ridge from Mt Crawford to Seatoun Heights was proposed to be named Te Whetu Kairangi Ridge.

The three naming proposals will be opened for public submission later this month or early next month.

The Dominion Post