Wellington Scoop

What’s in a name?

convention centre front door

by Lindsay Shelton
Last week’s announcement of Tākina as the new name for the new Conference Centre has brought a lively discussion about its relevance.

It was also a reminder that renaming has become a habit in Wellington.

The Hurricanes are now referring to the Stadium as “our house.”

And the Transport Agency is calling itself Waka Kotahi.

(It must have been admiring the unofficial and unpopular rebranding of Victoria University, which now capitalises WELLINGTON as its key word, followed by another waka – Te Herenga Waka.)

The national museum of course has successfully persuaded everyone to think of it as Te Papa – and everyone knows that this means “our place.”

But few of us have been persuaded that the Regional Council should be referred to as “Greater Wellington,” which sounds like a place on a map rather than an organisation. And worse, a place that has grandiose ideas of its own importance.

There are similar problems with the rebranding of the Wellington Regional Economic Development Agency – a name which perfectly described the organisation and what it is supposed to do. It has renamed itself WellingtonNZ. The original name was perfect. The new name … well, if you’re going to WellingtonNZ are you going to the place, or the organisation?

The city council has offered three explanations of its new name for the convention centre.

At first it tweeted that the name meant “to envoke.”

It later corrected its spelling, and there was overkill from Cr Jill Day:

“Tākina is a really strong, memorable name, meaning ‘to invoke’. It is a name that has so many different levels to it and reflects both the building and our city as a place people come together to talk and think.” The Council had a desire for the building to have an identity and story anchored by the history of the site, its surroundings and its meaning to the city. This was an opportunity to bring to life those stories and connections with the cultural history of the city, and create an identity for the centre where visitors won’t just experience a world class venue, but will also be exposed to a unique Wellington experience – Tākina encapsulates all of those elements.

So much to be explained to convention-goers, if any can be found.

The council’s naming announcement included a further explanation, from Kura Moeahu, Chair, Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa ki te Upoko o te Ika a Maui, who didn’t however refer directly to the new name:

“Te Whanganui-a-Tara (Wellington harbour) is renowned for its unique and diverse winds – from those that rage across the harbour to the softer and more welcoming winds. Wellington is known as the windiest city in the world. We should acknowledge it for what it is. We have no power or control over Tāwhirimātea and how he chooses to behave. We can’t control our environment, but we can learn to certainly respect and appreciate it.”

All of which is a reminder that naming and renaming should have the aim of clarity and recognition. Te Papa achieved this. Some of the other attempts have fallen short of their goal.


  1. Traveller, 12. August 2020, 12:44

    Where (or what?) is Lesser Wellington?

  2. Morris Oxford, 12. August 2020, 12:56

    Lesser Wellington is what the WCC looks after. And it’s getting Lesser all the time.

  3. Traveller, 12. August 2020, 13:22

    The WCC may be Lesser, but not its rates – I’ve just opened my rates bill … what a shock.

  4. Trish, 13. August 2020, 9:35

    Can people please get over the “Greater” Wgtn Regional Council. We all know that Wellington covers Kapiti to Upper Hutt. The council also covers southern Wairarapa. (Central and northern Wairarapa are in Manawatu in line with the river catchment.) So instead of simply absorbing S Wairarapa, the council has shown respect by referring to its rohe as Greater Wellington. I just wish that GWRC would occasionally explain that to all the negative people who just want a stick to beat them with.

  5. David Mackenzie, 13. August 2020, 11:30

    Invocation is a sterling concept. What has it to do with convention centres?

  6. TrevorH, 13. August 2020, 15:54

    Isn’t “invocation” about summoning up spirits? Surely “convocation”, ie calling people to gather, would be more appropriate for a “convention centre”. Or is it actually a “coven centre” in which case “invocation” would in fact work well?

  7. Local, 14. August 2020, 11:40

    Trevor H. Broomsticks come to mind. A coven centre would be a great use for this invoking expensive rates sapping thing. I found Mavis’ attempt to find meaning in Takina alluring. The name has nothing to do with our history, the te reo dictionary or conventions.

  8. TrevorH, 14. August 2020, 18:31

    @Local. Broomsticks have never been part of the LGWM conversation as far as I am aware. Because they are powered vehicles, their use within the city should be strictly controlled and discouraged. Hopefully provision can however be made on the light rail system for broomsticks that are not in use by fitting special racks to accommodate them.

  9. One- of -a -coven, 14. August 2020, 21:24

    Thanks TrevorH. Unfortunately we will need to consult for at least 10 years to see whether the public and NZTA and GWRC and WCC and LGWM and the National Party would allow broomsticks on light rail (smelly diesel buses? trackless trams?) But you can be sure an ‘iconic’ and ‘evocative’ and ‘invocating’ decision will be proclaimed by whoever is the mayor.

  10. Casey, 18. August 2020, 17:14

    Just as the Stadium became The Cake Tin, I can see that when Takina is costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a week with staff wages, maintenance, repairs, interest payments but little income, it might become known as Foster’s Folly.

  11. Toni, 18. August 2020, 23:06

    When you have nothing urgent on the agenda, the next best thing to keep you busy is to rename things.