An artists impression of a future Auckland train station as part of the CRL.

Death to jargon: a call for better Auckland names

Here’s a quick and easy and inexpensive way we can all get more excited about Auckland. Change the names of things! No really – Simon Wilson is serious about this.

There’s free burgers or something if you can answer all five of these quick questions: What’s the CRL? What’s the LTP? What about the UP? Any idea at all what ATEED means? And now you’re all good and warmed up, what’s the difference between the governing body and the Auckland Council?

Should have said, if you work for the council you don’t qualify for the burgers. Also if you’re one of those twitteratixperts. But still, think about burgers for a moment. Think about how they get marketed, with drool-inducing photos and cool social media and catchy names. Murder Burger! Better Burger! Burger Burger!

See where I’m going with this? Drooly photos of Phil Goff? Nope. Think about the CRL. Nobody knows what it is because nobody believes they should have to learn a thing like that. But the CRL is important. They’re digging up Albert St because of it right now, and that’s hell, but when they’re done it will be immensely valuable to everyone coming and going from the city. Why? Because it will double the capacity of our rail lines. But nobody cares because it’s got the wrong name.

So here’s my proposal: let’s call it the Murder Burger Railroad.

Well, maybe not that. The CRL, which stands for City Rail Link, not Central Rail Loop or anything else like that, is an underground railway. In London, it’s the Tube. In Paris, le Metro. In New York, it’s the Subway – although no, they did not name it after the sandwich. The trains came first.

The point is, when you give your services good names, people can form a relationship with them. Like them, feel proud of them, get frustrated and all the rest, but in the way you do with something you care about.

So let’s stop saying CRL. Let’s give our Underground, the first in the country, a name. I used to think the Metro would be good but these days not so much. But maybe the K Line, because it will go under K Road? Or the Aotea line, because Aotea will be the biggest station and right in the middle of the route? The Len Line? Yeah nah. The Albert? Because it runs under Albert St, obviously. Shelob’s Lair – you know, that spider in The Lord of the Rings – because Orcland, etc? Getting silly now.

But the Twitter lines are open. #nametheAucklandrailtunnel


Even more important, the LTP. You need to get out more if you know what this one stands for, but the LTP is going to be the most important document Phil Goff introduces in his first term as mayor. LTP means Long Term Plan, and “long term” means 10 years. The LTP gets redrawn every three years, and that’s due in 2018.

The Department of Internal Affairs (another thing that could do with a name change) says “LTPs outline all things a council does and how they fit together. They show what will be done over the plan’s 10 year period, why the council is doing things and their costs.”

The council also makes an annual plan, which is the budget for each year. But most things it does take longer than a year to achieve, so the LTP is where it sets out, and invites consultation on, all the most important elements of its programme.

So why don’t we call it, I don’t know, the City Plan? There’s already a 40-year plan, which is called, slightly confusingly, the Auckland Plan. But City Plan sounds more pressing, right? Or something else? The Tamaki Makaurau Masterpiece? Your turn to share: #renametheLTP

As for UP, that’s the Unitary Plan, a title that is almost entirely unself-explanatory. It’s the blueprint for the city: the maps and rules that say what can be built where and how it must be done. Is there a reason we don’t call it the Auckland Blueprint? Or even the Rulebook, although that doesn’t sound entirely in keeping with the shorts-sunfrocks-jandals ethic of the place.

Again, council boffins, if you give things understandable and appealing names, we just might be more likely to engage.


ATEED? The trouble here is that if the agency technically known as Auckland Tourism Events and Economic Development (yes, that’s what ATEED stands for) gave itself a sensible name, there’d be an outcry about how it was senselessly wasting money.

It’s hard for government agencies of any kind to change their names. But the precedent is there. The Arts Council of NZ is now Creative New Zealand. The funding agency for broadcasting was turned into NZ on Air and is about to rename itself the NZ Media Fund.

There’s also Panuku Development Auckland, formed from the merger of Waterfront Auckland and Auckland Council Property Ltd. Panuku isn’t instantly communicable to most people, but “development” is. And Panuku does invite you to learn more. It’s a statement-of-identity name, not a boring turnoff name.

Sure, ATEED probably shouldn’t change its name just now. But are its role and functions under review? That does seem likely, given the attacks it’s had to withstand and the imminent departure of its CEO, Brett O’Riley. If this is happening, please oh please can the organisation get a new, meaningful, appealing name?

Make Auckland Great Again? Well, no, not that.

Greater Auckland would be good, except the lobby group Transport Blog has just snaffled this name for itself. Absolutely Positively Auckland sounds better than Absolutely Positively Wellington, let’s face it, but even Auckland probably doesn’t quite have the nerve for that. Or does it? Answers with this: #betterthanATEED

And the governing body? That’s the 20 elected councillors and mayor who supposedly are in charge of the city. We all think of them as the council. But the council itself has a thing where all members of the local boards, one rung down and also elected, are also legally “members of the council”, although they are not allowed to call themselves councillors.

Maybe this one is irresolvable. They could be the high council and the lesser councillors, but that would be ridiculous. And everything else I’ve banged on about, well that’s not really ridiculous at all. Is it?

Hat tip to Guy Williams for the prompt on this, btw. I saw him MC a session of architects and property people the other day where he declared didn’t know any of the words they used. And then he said, correctly I am sure, that he did not think he was alone.

Good names, good city. Like a good burger, it all helps.

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