Wollongong councillors have voted to withdraw support for an Aboriginal name at a new West Dapto park to reconsider one picked out by developers.
At Tuesday night’s council meeting, Labor councillor Vicky King said the Aboriginal word previously endorsed by councillors – Karreuaira – was proving difficult to pronounce.
Cr King said she had been approached by some residents, who said they wanted a new park being created as part of a Wongawilli housing estate to be known Bankbook Park.
This name was originally proposed by developers of Vista Park in 2016, but ruled out by the council after public consultation as some residents said it was historically used as a derogatory name for poverty stricken miners who lived in the area.
On the Vista Park sales website, developers have already started using the name Bankbook Park.
In the search for a non-offensive name, the Illawarra Local Aboriginal Land Council suggested the name Karreuaira Reserve, as this is the Dharawal word for Moreton Bay Fig tree.
This name was endorsed by Wollongong’s heritage committee, with council staff noting the massive native trees were once part of local rainforest at Wongawilli.
Further, there is a large Moreton Bay Fig within the reserve being named.
Councillors voted unanimously to support the indigenous name in December – however this was overturned by a vote of 8-3 on Tuesday night.
“I am trying to get the correct pronunciation [for Karreuaira],” Cr King told councillors, before stumbling over the word.
She also said the state’s Geographic Names Board (GNB) has also asked for clarity over how the word should be pronounced. According to Wollongong council information supplied to councillors, it should be said Garreu–aira.
“If the GNB can’t get the right pronunciation, what hope have we got,” Cr King said. “So it is with all respect to my fellow brothers and sisters of the [council’s] Aboriginal committee that we should support a rescission motion.”
Lord Mayor Gordon Bradbery was one of the three councillors – along with Crs Mithra Cox and Cath Blakey – to vote against withdrawing support for the Aboriginal name.
“Personally, I think where there is an opportunity to use an Aboriginal name or an opportunity to reflect on our wonderful Aboriginal heritage, that to me is the better way to go,” he said.
“There’s plenty of Aboriginal names around NSW that when you see them seem challenging, but it’s like Towradgi and Unanderra – locally people just get used to them and it becomes a reference point.”
“I don’t want us to cause any insult to the local Aboriginal people.”
After the rescission motion, councillors will have to go back to the drawing board to reconsider all possible names for the reserve.
However, Cr Bradbery has noted this process may be redundant, as Karreuaira Reserve has already been lodged with the names board.
The GNB favours Aboriginal place names, which are the board’s preferred selection for the name of any place that does not have an assigned geographical name, he said.