Civic complex given new name

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Te Whare Whakatere will be completed by the end of the year.
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Ashburton’s new library and civic centre building now has just one name, replacing its two previous names.

The whole civic complex, to be completed by the end of this year, on Baring Square East is Te Whare Whakatere, meaning The House of Ashburton.

This should be easier for people to remember and write, than the previous two names of Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi  for the library and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka for the civic centre given in 2021.

All names were gifted by Arowhenua, which decided the new name would be better after a visit to the building’s construction site recently with Mayor Neil Brown and district council chief executive Hamish Riach.

The Arowhenua representative was Te Rūnanga o Arowhenua Ūpoko  Tewera King, who spoke to councillors at a full meeting of the district council last week.

‘‘I was fortunate enough to be taken for a tour across the road there,’’ King explained.

‘‘I was absolutely blown away by the place, and those original names that I originally gave actually do not fit the building and the purpose of the building,’’ he said.

‘‘Just going through the place I thought ‘Well this is kind of like a house for Ashburton, basically Ashburton house’.’’

Tewera King addressing ADC on new name for civic centre, Te Whare Whakatere.

The district council had 244 comments on its Facebook page, mostly on the te reo heritage of the name, then turned comments off, when it posted news of the name change following the meeting. A district council spokesperson said on the page several posts had used ‘‘hateful language or racism’’.

The spokesperson cleared up how to pronounce the name, saying the known te reo word for Ashburton, of Hakatere, was thought to be a misspelling made by early South Island surveyors unable to hear the soft “wh” in Ma ¯ori place names.

‘‘The ‘wh’ sound is pronounced closer to the sound in ‘whisper’ or ‘wheel’ than the ‘f’ sound in ‘fish’.’’

Meanwhile, the new name was among three formally received by district councillors at their meeting. The others were Hine Paaka for the council chamber and Te Kete Tuhinga for the library.

Hine Paaka is the name of a woman who lived in the late 1600s. She was the revered wife of Ngāi Tahu Chief Maru. Her name was memorialised and given to an ancient matai (beech) tree that once stood at Alford Forest, possibly for over 1000 years. The tree was a significant landmark to Māori  travelling through the district to the pounamu trails of the West Coast.

Te Kete Tuhinga means basket of script.

Brown said the district council was working on names for many other spaces and meeting rooms in the three-storey building and would be sharing them with the community soon.

“We’re delighted with the new names gifted from Arowhenua. I think we have achieved a great milestone here; the names link well to the history and heritage that mana whenua and pākeha share in our district.”

In November, 2021, Arowhenua gifted the library the name Te Pātaka o kā Tuhituhi (the storehouse of publications) and Te Waharoa a Hine Paaka (the gateway of Hine Paaka) for the civic centre.