The Evans Bay Turtle

What is it about Wellington and its circular landmarks with eccentric nicknames?

The under-50s won’t remember when the twin-domed Welsh Dragon Bar in the middle of Kent and Cambridge Terraces used to be a public toilet block, known by all as the Taj Mahal.

At the far end of the same dual-dragstrip is the Basin Reserve, so named after the 1855 earthquake turned Basin Lake into a swamp, which the council then turned into a sports reserve.

Over in Thorndon there’s the parliamentary Beehive, which Sir Basil Spence designed on the back of a serviette. And the Cake Tin, named by yours truly in response to a call for a nickname by the Evening Post’s Angus Morrison.

(Note: popular rumour has it that the Cake Tin was named by an Auckland talk show host, which is why it wasn’t popular for a long time with Wellingtonians. Still others say it was Andrew Mehrtens. Being a rather obvious name, it was probably all three of us.)

And now we have a new stadium to name: the Kilbirnie Indoor Sports Centre in Evans Bay. It’s not quite circular, but near enough.

The Dom Post’s Hank Schouten is calling for nicknames, so I sent in this letter:

Like the Cake Tin, the new Kilbirnie Indoor Sports Centre is a good example of smooth, single-minded design.

Now, what to call it?

I worry that the architects’ favourite, The Limpet, while anatomically accurate, might be a bit, well, limp to catch on.

So what about the Saucer (as in flying), the Clam, the Oyster, the Stingray, the Flounder, the Slater or the Frisbee?

(Had they built it where Councillor Andy Foster wanted, it could have been the Downtown Indoor Sports Centre — DISC.)

A friend of mine argues noisily for The Trilobite, a creature I had not heard of, but which it clearly resembles.

But the nickname with the best combination of stickability and seaside relevance would have to be the Turtle.

What do you think? Feel free to suggest a name of your own. I may run a poll of the best of them.

But to me, if I squint as I drive round the bays I see a beached, bleached white turtle shell whose occupant is wisely staying indoors.

(As well he might. When I drove past on Monday, there was thick snow just around the corner in Shelly Bay.)

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. More there this morning by the look of the photo’s on Stuff.
    Days Bay beach with snow on it.
    thankfully I left both that and the pollies behind and moved towards the sun.

  2. I think that Trilobite is an excellent choice. A lot more interesting and conversation provoking than a plain old turtle wouldn’t you agree ? Am quite surprised that you had never heard of this rather famous creature John. Perhaps you did not have the benefit of going to a school that provided you with the sort of education that would have made you aware of it’s existence ?.

    JA: Dear readers: you should know that Robert Amor is my former flatmate from the 1970s. He is quite irrationally proud of having attended Onslow College, where apparently their study of tiny invertebrates was second to none.

    We recently sat in an Evans Bay cafe musing on names for the indoor sports centre, and he insisted it resembled a trilobite.

    I had never heard of a trilobite. It sounded to me like some fancy new kind of disk drive.

    And I failed to see how a presumably rectangular box could be confused with the distinctly curvy edifice we were eyeballing.

    But Robert insisted that a trilobite was a rounded creature not too dissimilar from a slater, only more extinct.

    I remained dubious, and we had a bet as to whether anyone else in the cafe had heard of it.

    Despite his best efforts to push-poll, and despite the cafe being over the road from NIWA and full of nerdy types, no one had.

    I think I won a hot chocolate, or a million bucks, I forget which.

    But I must now concede publicly to the regrettably increasing readership of this blog that the creature does exist after all, and humbly apologise to Mon Amor for ever doubting him.

    I also concede a certain fondness for christening the centre The Trilobite and will do a special post to promote it further.

    Happy now, Rob?

  3. My joy, like my impressive education at Onslow, knows no bounds.

    JA: I’ve not met Joy, but she’s obviously a very large woman.


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