Iwi gives the community of Stratford a name for the neighborhood’s new pool

The new swimming pool should be completed in the next few months. Photo / Ilona Hanne

The new Stratford pool will have a bilingual name, combining a te reo Māori name given to the community by local iwi, alongside an English name.

The facility, which is due to be completed within the next eight weeks, is set to be called Wai o Rua – Stratford Aquatic Centre, after elected members voted to adopt the name at the Policy and services last week.

Given by Ngāti Ruanui, Ngāruahine and Ngāti Maru iwi, the name Wai o Rua directly translates to “water of Rua,” Community Services Manager Kate Whareaitu said at the meeting.

She said Rua recognized two local tupuna – Rua Taranaki and Ruaputahanga.

Whakaahurangi, the te reo Māori name for the district, means looking at the stars and comes from the story of Ruaputahanga lying near where the Kopuatama cemetery now stands and looking at the stars above.

Kate said that Rua also means two, and along with the two tupuna, the word two is also related to the two waterways from which the community draws water – the Konini stream and the Pātea river.

The name Wai o Rua also lent itself well to the actual design of the pool, she said, with the two peak-shaped windows on the north side of the facility allowing users to look up to the mountain and gaze upon the stars.

“I think the name is inclusive, easy to say and remember, yet playful.”

Iwi had come up with that name in preference to a longer name, she said, because it suited a facility that would be used for educational, competitive and health purposes as well as entertainment.

Elected officials voted 10 to 1 in favor of adopting the name at the meeting, a decision that will be formally adopted at the regular council meeting next Tuesday.

Rural Councilor Rick Coplestone voted against the name, saying he’d like to hear “the next generation” to name ideas, as it was for them that the pool was built.

“I would like to see all the schools in Stratford come up with a name, they are the ones who will use it. The name is nice, but there is too much ambiguity in it.”

He had Googled the name of Wai o Rua, he said.

“I searched and Wai o Rua has a bunch of different meanings across the country, including a mental health service in Hawke’s Bay.”

Councilor Min McKay advised against relying on the internet to figure out the name.

“It’s not about a direct translation, it’s about the story behind it.”

She “really loved” the name and the story behind it, she said.

Councilor John Sandford asked about the order of names.

“The way it’s written here, is that how it will appear on the building?”

“The preference is te reo Māori before the English, which is considered best practice,” Kate Whareaitu said.

“I personally think it should be the Stratford Aquatic Center and then the Maori name under it is my view,” John said.

It was also a view he heard frequently from voters, he added.

Councilor Peter Dalziel spoke in favor of the name.

“Congratulations to everyone involved in this process. That’s a great name, easy to say, short, I totally agree.”

Councilor Jono Erwood was also in favor of the new name.

“History is our story, and I’m happy to support it.”

It would also be “an insult” to reject the name after asking iwi for his opinion, he said.

Deputy Mayor Alan Jamieson said he liked the name.

“But I’m happy to go out to the community to get their input. I’d like to see that discussed.”

Mayor Neil Volzke expressed support for adopting the name.

It had a clear and relevant meaning, he said, and was also easy to read, say and spell.

“I love the story behind it. It’s fantastic.”

Disclaimer: Editor Ilona Hanne is married to CEO of Stratford District Council

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