History hides behind the name on the street sign

JONATHAN CARSON
Last updated 05:00 30/03/2013
Carl Norton
BEN CURRAN/Fairfax NZ

SWEET AS: Allgood Pl resident Carl Norton likes the positive sound of the street he lives on.

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It might be Allgood for those living on Johnnybro Pl but some developers are expecting the growing numbers of increasingly unusual street names to struggle to get the sign-off in future.

The days of new streets named after a long dead city founding father have been overtaken in recent years with an increasingly eclectic mix submitted by developers.

Street names popping up across the city, including the likes of Johnnybro Pl and Allgood Pl, have been targeted by thieves, likely because of their colloquial Kiwi tone.

But the attraction of some street signs is clearly too much for some - whose light-fingered antics are costing Hamilton ratepayers close to $240,000 each year in replacing stolen and damaged signs.

Holden Ave, in Forest Lake, and Hooker Ave, in Chedworth, have also been stolen multiple times by car enthusiasts, and others.

Last year, 494 street signs were stolen in Hamilton, 2216 were damaged through vandalism and 697 from vehicle crashes, costing ratepayers close to $240,000.

The city council has "gone to the extreme" with some signs, attaching them to light or power poles, raising them up higher, and reinforcing them with steel.

Council transportation manager Phil Consedine said signs with people's names were a popular target.

"But we also have a lot of signs taken or damaged around the university area by students in O-week or because groups of people decide it's a fun thing to do for some reason," he said.

Hamilton residential property developer Simon Webb said he usually named streets based on what sounded good, but has also named one after both his dad and daughter.

However, he said the council's guidelines were "quite stringent".

"I'd say it won't be too far away that they'll name the streets. They probably want more control over the hit and miss aspect of leaving it to developers."

Johnnybro Developments director Alan Tsai, who moved to New Zealand from Taiwan 20 years ago, said his street sign - Johnnybro Pl - had been stolen about four times in the past year.

It has now been raised up higher, which seems to have fixed the problem.

Mr Tsai said he had no idea that it would be so popular with Kiwis and had no problems getting it past council.

He named it after his youngest son, Johnny, and his two brothers, Thomas and Kevin. There was already a Thomas Rd in the area and Mr Tsai has a company named after Kevin.

And while Mr Tsai used family for inspiration, Mr Webb said naming streets came down to what sounded good. Allgood Pl is within his Horsham Estate development but Mr Webb said he wasn't sure who came up with it.

"It just sounded good. It's not a bad thing, all good. It's positive and people wouldn't feel bad living in a street of that name."

He said if the council thought a street name might be a target for thieves they would "probably steer clear of it".

"It's getting harder and harder to get names past and I think eventually local iwi and council will probably have the final say on what streets get called.

"You've got so many guidelines you've got to follow that it's actually quite difficult to leave a stamp of yourself there and probably the street name's about the last bastion for that."

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Allgood Pl resident Carl Norton said living in the small Rototuna cul-de-sac was, funnily enough, "all good".

"It's just a quirky name. The kids love it, especially all the teenage kids because that's all the in, trendy words they use. It's a bit out of our range, but it's all good."

Mr Consedine said the council rejected very few street names and usually only if they sounded similar to others, or were derogatory.

Property developer and founder of Jennian Homes, Ian Patton, said street names in his Glaisdale subdivision were taken from an English village of the same name.

He said he bought the land off the McCorquindale family, who were originally from the village.

"I got on the computer and found out about the Glaisdale village in England, I went there, I drove around and got the street names and we've used those street names here.

"There's usually a bit of history behind them."

Aside from major roads, it was always the developer who named the streets, he said.

"As long as they don't conflict or confuse, I guess.

"They won't let you have A..hole St."

- Waikato Times

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