Name change ruled out for St Arnaud

Last updated 00:00 16/11/2007

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A controversial name change for St Arnaud has been stopped in its tracks by a New Zealand Geographic Board ruling.

The debate over the name change has raged in the small alpine town for over a year with the Rotoiti District Community Council behind a change to Rotoiti, but some residents were staunchly opposed to it.

A letter sent by the geographic board's secretary, Wendy Shaw, to members of both sides of the debate this week confirmed a ruling to decline the name change application, "so St Arnaud remains the official name".

The board said the reasons for its ruling were St Arnaud had been the town's official name for more than 50 years, Rotoiti was already the neighbouring lake's name, there could be confusion among emergency services with the North Island's Lake Rotoiti, there was not a lot of community support for the change, and the Tasman District Council had remained neutral on the proposal.

St Arnaud Alpine Village Store owner Marianne Maslin-Grimward, one of the key opponents of the name change, said on Friday morning she was "thrilled to pieces" with the ruling.

If supporters continued with the name change proposal, they would be saying "up yours basically" to the general mood in the village.

"Anybody with half a brain would see the community has spoken."

She said the name change debate had put St Arnaud on the map and been good publicity for her business, with various people passing through commenting on it.

Community council vice-president Brent Higgins said there was no right of appeal against the decision, and the matter had been put to rest.

"Naturally those who are passionate about the name Rotoiti are disappointed with the decision, however it is accepted, and we'll move forward."

As a result of the process, the area had received publicity which "has to be good", he said.

Nelson Lakes Promotions Group chairman Ted Krammer said the debate had been helpful in unearthing the fact that historically the village had never been named Rotoiti.

The belief that it had been was one of the key arguments for the name change.

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- The Nelson Mail

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