Monday, March 4, 2024

New street sign of times for Hamilton

New signs mark the official name change of Von Tempsky Street to Puutikitiki Street and nearby Dawson Park to Te Wehenga Park in Hamilton.

The new te reo Maaori names are unique to the area, reflect its history and are significant to tangata whenua.

Today, the new names were acknowledged by elected members, tangata whenua and the local community. Hamilton East School tauira (students) performed waiata (songs) as part of the new name blessing and sign unveilings.

Hamilton Mayor, Paula Southgate said the occasion was special for the city’s tangata whenua and iwi partners along with Ian McMichael, the “driving force” behind the community-led process.

“It’s not often streets are renamed in the city so it’s a special day made more meaningful by the new names that are linked to the area and speak to its unique history,” said Mayor Southgate.

“Our history is complex so it’s important that we acknowledge all of our history, from the light to the dark parts and everything in between. I’m encouraged that we are on the right path as New Zealand history will be taught in all schools and kura for the first time next year.”

The interpretive park signage was unveiled by tangata whenua representatives.

In November last year, Council received the two renaming applications from local resident, Ian McMichael. After consultation with tangata whenua, property owners, local businesses and residents, the applications were presented to Council’s Community Committee in April 2022. Both applications were approved along with a commitment to install inclusive interpretive signage in the park.

In collaboration with Ngaati Wairere hapuu, the sign was developed to help share the stories of the new names, covers the history of the area and historical figures that inspired the original street and park names.

The cultural history and narrative for the new street and park names are provided below:
(excerpts from the sign)

Puutikitiki Street
Puutikitiki means to tie or knot together, while tikitiki refers to the traditional ‘top-knot’ hairstyle worn by high-ranking Maaori chiefs and warriors. Feathers from native birds in the surrounding bush and gully, particularly huia feathers, would have adorned the topknots of local chiefs. Puutikitiki was the original name of a large block of land that included the gully behind the Hamilton East School campus and extended to the Hillcrest area. Prior to 1864 this area was occupied by Ngaati Parekirangi, a hapuu of Ngaati Wairere. Hamilton East School’s lower field has been known as Puutikitiki for the last 10 years.

Te Wehenga Park
Wehenga means departure or separation. Te Wehenga is the historic name for the Ngaati Parekirangi and Ngaati Haanui urupaa (burial ground) that was situated in the area. The urupaa was destroyed in the 1870s by the Grey Street road cutting next to Hamilton East School. Remains were found during the road construction and bones were removed by tangata whenua. The site is considered sacred, and the name recognises the significance of the place to local hapuu.

The spelling of the road name was changed from the original renaming application in August 2022 to include double vowels (uu) in lieu of vowels with a macron (ū) to represent a long vowel sound in te reo Maaori. This spelling approach is the preference of tangata whenua in Hamilton Kirikiriroa and Waikato‐Tainui iwi for te reo Maaori words.

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