New Zealand Geographic Board is recommending that what Napierites colloquially know as Perfume Point be named East Pier Point (The Perfume Point to lose nickname 2/8/25). This follows a proposal from Treaty of Waitangi claimants, Mana Ahuriri, to alter the locally used name Perfume Point to Te Karaka.
To assist with maritime safety the NZGB decided that “the small coastal feature known locally as East Pier should be proposed as an official name, East Pier Point”. They also recommended that Te Karaka be assigned to an historic site on the point near the navigational light.
Where on earth did the NZGB form the opinion that Perfume Point is known locally as East Pier? There is a fine restaurant and bar known as East Pier in the vicinity of Perfume Point but it is not on the point itself. Hands up all those who go to East Pier to fish, rather than eat and drink. Not many I would imagine.
When we look at the proposal considered by the NZGB it states that “Napier City Council has advised that ‘Perfume Point is known as Ahuriri Heads and the feature is part of a channel cut by Māori sometime during the 1700’s – the point is a man-made feature”. Note the use of the word advised. Personally I’ve never heard of Ahuriri Heads and in an unscientific survey I undertook over the weekend no one I spoke too had either. And that included a number of nautical types.
So what consultation has Napier City Council completed to reach the conclusion that Perfume Point is locally known as East Pier? Mayor Bill Dalton acknowledges that he was surprised as everyone else about this proposal, so clearly the politicians have been kept in the dark by council staff.
No doubt Councillor Mark Herbert, the owner of East Pier Restaurant, can only be embarrassed by the proposed name given the implications of commercial gain. Knowing Councillor Herbert I don’t for one second think he has abused his position. However even the perception of abuse of position needs to be nipped in the bud. I hope Napier City Council comes out strongly against the proposal to demonstrate this.
I think it is time some serious questions were asked of our local bureaucrats about how close they are to the pulse of public sentiment if the advise they give to someone like NZGB deviates so much from public opinion. This a question that our politicians should be asking. It is a question I think the rate payers of Napier deserve an answer to.
As for Mana Ahuriri’s suggestion about using the name Te Karaka I agree in principle with NZGB’s recommendation that that “Te Karaka be assigned to an historic site on the point near the navigational light”. I’m not sure exactly where the historic site is, as the proposal is unclear on this. It is unfortunate that further consultation is needed, but such is life. After all Perfume Point is not going anywhere in a hurry.
It says a lot about the community spirit in Napier that something as simple as naming a local landmark can cause such controversy. I am heartened to see this. It says to me that we really care about our connections with the past. Our memories of what it used to be like. Even if the odour was unpleasant. Some may which to forget the connotations behind the name Perfume Point. We shouldn’t. Just as my kids call Awatoto ‘Stink-a-toto’, colloquial names often have greater meaning than one which has been sanitised by some committee.
Personally I would prefer the name Perfume Point be gazetted. The name connects us as a community to an appalling part of our history. Namely when pouring raw sewage into Hawke Bay was accepted practice. I for one wish to be able to tell my children and grandchildren the reason behind the name. So that they can see that past mistakes can be rectified. That 20th century thinking which took no account of pollution had severe consequences. We don’t forget Chunuk Bair, I don’t think we should forget Perfume Point.
To my mind NZGB has not researched current name usage sufficiently to be able to make an informed decision. This was not helped by the so called advise given by Napier City Council. It’s not too late to make a submission. You have until 28th August. Just go to http://www.linz.govt.nz/ and click on ‘consultation’ and then the link about ‘seven place names are open for consultation’. Feedback I have received mentions just how easy it is to make a submission. I recommend you do so.
Submitted 3/8/15 Published 14/8/15