Mandarin on welcome signs a possibility for Timaru, councillors say

A sign at The Timaru District Council stand at the China Weihai Food Expo in 2015. A visitor strategy suggests ...
Aoraki Polytechnic staff

A sign at The Timaru District Council stand at the China Weihai Food Expo in 2015. A visitor strategy suggests displaying Mandarin greetings at the entrances of Canterbury's towns.

Greetings in Mandarin might be in, but welcoming visitors to Timaru with "Timaz hard" is off the table, councillors say.

Timaru District Council has a $120,000 project on its books to replace entrance signs at sites throughout the district from July.

The project is on hold while the council conducts a communications review, but since then a mayoral forum has suggested adding Chinese greetings and road safety messages at the entrances of Canterbury towns.

The question of signs may be raised at a council meeting on Tuesday when the project appears in a quarterly works programme review.

READ MORE: Timaru's identity needs refining for new welcome signs, council says

District Mayor Damon Odey says there "might be room" for Mandarin but councillors need to discuss the idea first. Councillors Steve Wills, Peter Burt, Tony Brien and Dave Jack said they were open to the possibility, although Jack suggested German greetings might be equally apt.

However, several councillors have ruled out using a high-polling local slogan, "Timaz Hard".

The slogan, which appears to have no specific meaning but which Wills described as a "trendy saying that is thrown about regularly amongst the younger population" topped an unscientific online poll of possible features for the sign, winning more than half the 189 votes.

Wills said he knew several men with "Timaz hard" tattooed on their bodies.

Both Odey and Brien said they had never heard the term before. Brien said googling the term "brings up some very distasteful and disrespectful media - so, no, I most certainly do not support this slogan".

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Burt said "Timaz hard" was "not a true reflection of a modern, progressive, family and business friendly town so I would not support it", preferring a public competition to find ways to depict "the benefits of the lifestyle choices available here".

"It is a saying that's been around for a few years and is very student-based and used by teenage and young adults," Burt said.

Jack was unfamiliar with the term, and said it "sounds like a sex toy". He preferred promotion of local amenities like Caroline Bay, Timaru's restaurants and the CBay aquatic centre. 

Including the Caroline Bay penguin colony in Timaru's branding, which council chief executive Peter Nixon suggested in an off-the-cuff discussion in February, might attract criticism from TImaru's southern neighbours.

Waitaki District mayor Gary Kircher commented at the time "time to get your own identity and branding Timaru, without trying to take ours".

"Waitaki has a strong identity for our penguins. "

Te Runanga o Arowhenua chairman John Henry said the runanga had not discussed the sign project.

 - Stuff

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