LOTR names for Fiordland rejected in 1973

Names showed 'a singular lack of imagination'

ALEX FENSOME
Last updated 05:00 06/12/2012
Robin McNeill
RAISED EYEBROW: Moir’s Guide editor Robin McNeill with the 1973 letter rejecting Tolkien names coined for Fiordland landmarks because they were too imaginative.

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A 1970s attempt to name bits of Fiordland later used in filming The Lord of the Rings after the works of J R R Tolkien was dismissed by authorities because it was excessively imaginative and based on a "fairytale".

Last month, Manapouri man Aaron Nicholson applied to the New Zealand Geographic Board to christen an unnamed Earl Mountains summit Mt Tolkien.

However, it was not the first attempt to introduce Lord of the Rings-inspired names to the region.

In 1973, John Williams, a geology student at the University of Otago, named several features near Lake Gunn on the Milford Rd after The Lord of the Rings.

They included Mt Gondor, which the Geographic Board mistakenly filed as Mt Condor.

The peak was later revealed to have already been named Consolation Peak, and all Mr Williams' other suggestions were rejected and replaced by names chosen by the Park Board.

Moir's Guide editor Robin McNeill has found a 1973 letter from the Chief Surveyor of the Department of Lands and Survey, M W Armstrong, to the Otago University Tramping Club, which had objected to the Park Board's ruling.

"Two Park Board members expressed quite condemnatory views in their rejection of the names," Mr Armstrong wrote.

"I consider that the OUTC's comment that the Park Board's substitute names ‘show a singular lack of imagination' is unwarranted, particularly in view of the reasons put forward."

He then delivered a stinging rebuke to the idea of Tolkien-themed names in Fiordland.

"I am of the opinion that Mr Williams' names are almost excessively imaginative even verging on the fanciful. I have no knowledge of Prof. Tolkien's ‘famous fairy tale' but even if it is a great literary work I believe the names taken from it have no place in this essentially rugged piece of country."

Mr Williams, who now works in the university's geology department, said he was not bothered by the idea of Mt Tolkien.

It would have been wonderful if his names had been allowed given the area was later used in filming the movies, he said.

He coined the names Rivendell Pass, which became U Pass, Westernesse Pass, which became Glade Pass, Mordor Peak, which became Triton Peak, Sauron Peak and Isengard Peak, which became Disappearing Peaks, and The Withywindle, which was rejected "as being completely out of keeping with the other general namings in the park."

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- The Southland Times

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