+64 27 462 4872 editor@mahurangi.org.nz

The Mahurangi Magazine

Select Page

‘We’ name you: Mahurangi Initiative Strategy

by 22 Mar 2009Action plan planning0 comments

Mahurangi Breakfast Club Fridays 7.30–8.30am Ducks Crossing Café

The Auckland Regional Council has signalled its support for the collaborative development of a strategic planfor the Mahurangi.

Isambard Kingdom Brunel

Bring on the Bubbly: Lacking a suitable ‘We name you…’ image of a monarch, this classic photograph of engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, posing prior to the launching of the Great Eastern he designed in 1852, is a great favourite of friend of the Mahurangi, Sarah Ransom.

Although the regional council envisages that the plan will be entirely broad in its scope, it is unlikely to favour addressing entirely general issues—the quality of preschool education and nuclear disarmament would probably not qualify!

Given that the process is a collaborative one, it is appropriate that a name for the process is arrived at collaboratively.

Prerequisites for a suitable name:

  1. Descriptive
  2. Short
  3. Sweet
  4. Forms an acronym that is not too unfortunate.

On the subject of acronyms, councils are awash with ’em. At Monday’s Mahurangi Initiative forum, Rodney District Council engineers used two in particular, and both proved to be barriers to communication.

The first was I&I. It stands for inflow and infiltration, of stormwater into sewers. After the acronym was used a second time, a murmur went around the forum and an explanation was called for.

The explanation addressed infiltration, which is where the stormwater ‘leaks’ into a system, classically as the result of ground movement causing the seals of joints between pipes and manholes to fail.

The first ‘I’ was not explained. Inflow is where stormwater is directed into the system, classically through the illegal connection of down pipes to sewers, or sewer gully traps positioned so low they act as a intakes for surface water.

The next acronym to confound was PWC.

Again, use of an acronym guaranteed that many missed much of the ensuing discussion. The acronym is particularly unfortunate given that WC is itself an acronym for water closet—nevermind acronyms, euphemisms abound for the want of a compact, honest term for ‘a place to defecate and/or urinate’.

Wastewater has displaced sewage in recent decades, only to paint itself into a corner in the zero-waste era.

Be that as it may, the district council uses the term pressure wastewater collection to describe the low-pressure sewerage technology it has quite courageously embraced. (Sewerage, of course, being the reticulation, as opposed to sewage, that being reticulated.)

Specifically, it refers to the use of individual low-pressure grinder pumps, which feed into a sealed system.

Conventional systems, since at least 3100 BC, have involved gravity systems, which require painstaking attention to levels. The pumped system is forgiving of hilly terrain and ground movement. Most importantly, stormwater cannot infiltrate. And if a householder expediently directs stormwater into the system, overflows and excessive electricity bills will result.

But back to question at hand.

‘Mahurangi Initiative Strategy’ has the double advantage that it doesn’t form a useful acronym, and the one it does is no embarrassment.

Try it: ‘We did indeed miss Ms Morresey at the MIS working group!’

Taking the balance of the prerequisites for a suitable name in order:

A collaboratively developed strategic plan for the Mahurangi it might be, but by sticking with Mahurangi Initiative, much of the work is already done. The Mahurangi Initiative concept is for a collaborative, inclusive network pursuing the restoration and enjoyment of the Mahurangi. Initiative suggests action, as in the action plans likely to result from developing strategies. Strategy, in the word’s sense as a plan, added to Mahurangi Initiative provides usefully descriptive name for the process.
If shortened further, to Mahurangi Strategy, the context of the Mahurangi Initiative is lost.
Mahurangi Initiative Strategy involves only sweetly positive words.

The test for how well ‘Mahurangi Initiative Strategy’ works will come quickly, as working groups form around the various Mahurangi issues.

For example, how quickly will a ‘Mahurangi Initiative strategy working group’ form to discuss Mahurangi River navigation? Or low impact design, the Mahurangi Walkway, sustainable indigenous forestry, or long-term water–stormwater–sewage options?

The Mahurangi Initiative network will go from strength to strength by building on positive contributions, but also by responding to constructive criticism.

The royal ‘we’ in the title of this piece relates to the proposition that the Mahurangi Initiative network might name the Mahurangi Initiative Strategy process.

If ‘we’ think of a better name, let’s be having it!