Got a naming dispute? Give it to a mountaineer

A superbug is taking hold of our community, higher electricity prices are on the cards – and in Auckland, two groups are wrangling over the name of a railway station.

One of two lobbies inevitably will be disappointed by the outcome. The common-sense solution, therefore, is to toss a coin.

But no, the bloody-minded Aucklanders have become party to a procedure that will consume time and resources before we are told from on high if the bloody railway station should be called Khyber Pass or Grafton.

They are writing submissions and presenting them to a curiously composed committee, including Ngai Tahu veteran Tipene O’Regan and a mountaineering representative, for a decision.

What’s the betting the outcome will be a Maori name that pisses off both factions involved in this silly scrap?

The fervour behind the dispute is reflected in a heading on a media statement from the Newmarket Business Association’s Cameron Brewer: “Battle breaks out over new Auckland railway station name”.

The association says it is

battling a residents’ association to win the hearts and minds of members of the New Zealand Geographic Board over the naming of a new Auckland railway station.

The statement explains that the new western line railway station on the corner of Khyber Pass Road and Park Road is due to be opened in March next year and will replace the Boston Road station.

The rail authority Ontrack has put forward two naming options to the New Zealand Geographic Board to formally consider at the end of this month. The suggested names of ‘Khyber Pass’ and ‘Grafton’ are the frontrunners.

The Newmarket Business Association’s submission strongly recommendeds Khyber Pass. The Grafton Residents Association is pushing for Grafton.

The media statement goes on lay out arguments in favour of Khyber Pass (“this station will sit right in the middle of Khyber Pass Road, a well known Auckland arterial road”) and against Grafton (“if the station was named Grafton it would not be a good geographical representation of where it is and would only confuse commuters”.)

No, Alf can’t be bothered finding out what the residents have got to say in favour of Grafton and agin Khyber Pass.

He is still spluttering at the thought the submissions will serve as fodder to keep the Geographic Board in business.

As observed in a post on the W(h)anganui issue, there is something awfully wrong about our place names being decided by some of the groups which are represented on the Geographic Board.

Sorry. By an outfit called “The New Zealand Geographic Board Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa (NZGB)”. It’s such a bloody mouthful, you’ve got to reduce the typeface to 6-point to get it on to a letterhead.

The board

assigns, approves, alters or discontinues the use of names for geographic features (eg place names), undersea features and Crown protected areas in New Zealand, its offshore islands and its continental shelf and the Ross Sea region of Antarctica.

But it’s the composition of this outfit that perplexes our Alf.

It is chaired by the Surveyor-General (a statutory officer within Land Information New Zeland). So far, so good.

But nine other members are appointed under the New Zealand Geographic Board (Ngā Pou Taunaha o Aotearoa) Act 2008, nominated or recommended by a very select group: Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Geographical Society, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, Minister of Māori Affairs, Minister for Land Information, Local Goverment New Zealand.

It’s through this process that O’Regan is one of the board’s members.

Why Ontrack shouldn’t call the station whatever it chooses is bemusing enough.

But why mountaineers or Ngai Tahu should be represented on the board that will deliberate on whether a railway station in Auckland is called Khyber Pass or Grafton has Alf gob-smacked.

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