The Wing-Friends and Other Books

In Blogger's slideshows images are greatly reduced, so lose much of their impact. And captions added to them in Picasa Albums vanish, so the images shown above are: the Milky Way, the Orion Nebula, Earth, Earth with New Zealand circled, New Zealand, Auckland & the Hauraki Gulf, Waiheke Island, some native NZ forest, a Fantail and chicks, various doves, etc.

(If you want to see the first ten images in their original size, they are in a posting made on the 24th of November 2011.)

My book The Wing-Friends is an imaginative tale of a small brave boy, a magical adventure, a magnificent Pegasus and the wonderful Kingdom of the Pegasi. It has been given very good reviews, and virtually every reader on Goodreads has so far awarded it five stars. It is available here. Some of my other writings are available as e-books, such as The Lower Deck, which is an over-the-top take on Waiheke happenings--sort of.

Thursday, 19 July 2012


In 1642 Abel Tasman was the first to put pen to paper and make a map of any part of New Zealand. In 1769 James Cook was the first to make a complete map of the country, albeit from sea. New Zealand dates its founding as a nation from the signing of the Treaty of Waitangi between the British Crown and the native Maoris in 1840.

But 370 years after Tasman, 243 years after Cook, and 172 years after the Treaty, New Zealand still does not have a complete official map. With GPS we can found out where we are in any place in the country to within centimetres, but there are tens of thousands places whose names we do not know, at least officially. Officially they do not exist.

For a placename to be official in New Zealand it must have been approved and gazetted by the New Zealand Geographic Board. But the Board has done that for only 7500 names. Important ones, such as Wellington (New Zealand's capital city), Auckland (its biggest city), North Island, South Island, etc., etc.,--tens of thousands of names have yet to be placed officially on the map.

(Actually 'North Island' has been gazetted, but not for the North Island of the country, the northernmost of its three main islands where most of the population lives; only for some obscure little dot in the Mutton Bird islands in Fouveaux Strait way down near the southernmost tip of New Zealand!!! So to be strictly legal you cannot say that Auckland and Wellington and many other places are in the North  Island, because they are not on that tiny Mutton Bird island--nor could they be: they cannot fit.)

Everyone, surely, has the right to live in a place that has an official name. Otherwise you cannot have an address, an identifiable property, no one can find you, emergency services may not be able to serve you, your mail may never come or go astray, etc.

There are three categories of names in New Zealand: official (gazetted), unofficial ('recorded'), and neither. 'Recorded' only means that the Geographic Board is of the opinion that a name has been mentioned at least twice on what it regards as an authorative map or database, but it has yet to be officially approved and recognised. It does not officially exist in law.

'Waiheke Island' is only recorded, and therefore has no official legal status. 'Rocky Bay', despite the fact that it has appeared on many maps and databases since at least 1877 has not even been recorded.

That is why at last night's meeting of the Waiheke Local Board I sought its support for putting Rocky Bay on the map. What follows is the written submission made to the board, which was supported by copies of old maps held in the Auckland War Museum Library that are too big to be shown here.


* Omiha/Rocky Bay as the dual name of that village.
* Omiha Bay/Rocky Bay as the dual name of that bay.
* Whakanewha Bay as the name of the bay on the edge of Whakanewha Regional Park
* Omiha Point as the name of the unnamed point at the northern end of Rocky Bay

Wendy Shaw, the Secretary of the New Zealand Geographic Board, told me in early July this year that only 16,000 placenames in New Zealand have been approved and gazetted by the Board, a further 35,000 have been recorded (acknowledged but not approved and gazetted), which leaves an unknown number in neither category. But in fact the Geographic Board's website lists only 7500 that have been approved and gazetted. 'Wellington' and 'Auckland' are just two of myriads that have yet to be approved and gazetted--but the North Shore suburb of Chatswood has been! It is very disappointing to find that in 2012 this country has such a mess of a map.

Included in the myriads in that third-level Black Hole is Rocky Bay as the name of the bay and the village, and Whakanewha Bay.

The system operated by the New Zealand Geographic Board is cumbersome. The application form is not well designed, a separate application must be made for every name (even when approval is being sought for a clutch of names in common use, and even if those have been recorded), and the Board meets only a few times a year, and may defer decisions indefinitely. So the process can be long and tedious.

The Waiheke Community Board has received an odd letter from the Geographic Board about a straightforward application that was made a year ago. The wording is odd, and the determination is quite wrong because the Board's advisors misread the application, which was for what heads these notes--for dual names. But they misread it as an application to replace Omiha Bay with Rocky Bay.

Many problems can of course be caused by wrong names on maps, and when names have not been gazetted, or even recorded, there is no authoritative source to correct errors. Therefore names in common daily use, even ones with a long and authoritative provenance, may be rejected by officialdom, which can cause day-to-day problems and may make emergencies more dangerous.

The worst day-to-day problems I have personally experienced were caused by the fact that New Zealand Post refuses to recognise placenames that have not been gazetted or recorded. 

In Rocky Bay only 'Omiha' has any kind of recognition, because it has been recorded, although not gazetted. None of the names sought here have been gazetted.

Starting in 2008 I had contact with a David Wilson, who glories in the title of Senior Addressing Support Analyst at New Zealand Post and sets the rules for addressing mail. He refuses to allow Rocky Bay, because it is neither recorded nor gazetted, and he enforces his rule with they threat of disqualification for the bulk-mailing discount. His reach is long and wide, and includes overseas entities such as National Geographic and Dell. So if people who live in Rocky Bay fill in their address as 'Rocky Bay' they are very likely to find it changed to Omiha. That caused me a nasty problem when Dell sent some expensive hardware that never arrived. Dell clearly thought that I had received them, and was lying to get them without fulfilling my side of the bargain. I finally tracked them down gathering dust in a bin somewhere in Christchurch, which also has an Omiha. On that occasion I knew that mail had gone astray. Very often we would not. How much has, and for how many people, is impossible to tell. 

At one stage I was even disenfranchised--removed from the electoral roll--because of the compulsion organisations are put under by the Post Office, and the electoral computer would not accept my address.

But regardless of such problems it is clearly most unsatisfactory to have a situation where well-established placenames are not recognised, not approved, not gazetted, and therefore rejected by various officials. So I ask the Waiheke Local Board to support this application to the New Zealand Geographic Board.

As you can see from the historical maps supplied to me by Paul Monin who got them from the Auckland War Memorial Museum Library, 'Rocky Bay' for the bay, 'Omiha' for the village area, and 'Whakanewha Bay' for the big bay along the edge of Whakanewha Regional Park, all have provenance going back at least as far as 1877.

The Honourable Sandra Lee says 'Omiha' was a Maori princess from another tribe who was captured by the tribe that lived in Rocky Bay and subsequently married a man from it, which reconciled the two tribes. We should obviously honour that positive heritage.

In law New Zealand has three official languages, including English and Maori of course, and therefore with that dual historical provenance it is fitting to have dual English and Maori names. For the bay itself, Rocky Bay has provenance going back to at least 1877, and Omiha Bay has been recorded in recent times. It would therefore be proper to gazette both of them. Then Post Office bureaucrats would have to accept Rocky Bay, and there could be no valid confusion in the emergency services. Whakanewha Bay also has provenance back to at least 1877. And naming the unnamed point at the northern end of Omiha Bay/Rocky Bay as Omiha Point would further honour the much older Maori provenance (Sandra says it goes back centuries).

Then Rocky Bay would be officially gazetted twice: as the English name of the village and the English name of the bay. And Omiha would officially be in the area four times: gazetted as the Maori name of the village and the bay and the name of its northern point, as well as in Omiha Road.

Obviously there are many placenames on the island that must be officialised until every single one has been put firmly on the map, but this four-fold application for Rocky Bay is as good a place as any to start, and a start on it has already been made, and therefore it needs only the Local Board's approval to continue to its proper, gazetted conclusion.

Then Rocky Bay and Whakanewha Bay will be up there with Chatswood and Rat Island...


Update: That was the grand plan. But the Waiheke Local Board proved itself incapable of making such a simple, obvious decision, pulled the old trick of asking for 'officials' to make a report, got the do-nothing report it wanted, and decided to do that. Nothing. So we remain down there, with the nameless rats: the bureauc-rats.