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Train Name Flies For Councillors

The new Hamilton to Papakura passenger rail service launching in mid-2020 now has a name – Te Huia.

The name had already received the backing of Waikato District and Hamilton City councils but it required formal adoption by Waikato Regional Council, the project lead.

The name was approved today, and the final step in the process will be registering the name with Intellectual Property of New Zealand. This is expected to be completed by May.

“Naming this transformational service after the huia is a way of bringing back this distinctive and beautiful bird,” said Waikato Regional Council chair Russ Rimmington. “I couldn’t think of anything more fitting when I put it forward as a suggestion.”

Although huia are extinct, to reignite and reaffirm its importance within our region by branding the train service provides a reminder of the grace and speed in which the taonga traversed the central landscape of North Island – similar to the purpose and design of the new passenger rail service.

Talking about the upcoming rail service, Angela Strange, chair of the Regional Connections Committee and a member of rail working group, said: “I’m excited to see some fantastic progress being made in the fit-out of the carriages at KiwiRail’s Lower Hutt yards.

“We’re on track to roll out of the railway station in Hamilton mid-year, providing people with a safe alternative and more reliable travel time than driving during peak times.”

About huia

Huia were endemic to the North Island through till the early 20th century and New Zealand's largest wattlebird. Like other large New Zealand forest birds, the huia was not a strong flyer, moving along the ground or from tree to tree with surprising ease, swift poise and grace. In pre-European times, huia ranged over large parts of the North Island.

The huia feather was a revered treasure for Māori and symbolised leadership and mana. Chiefs of high rank and their whānau wore the distinguished tail feathers in their hair.

Their extinction was both a great cultural and biological loss for New Zealand avifauna, therefore this enacts a unique contribution to bring back that taonga.

The front of the train mimics the curve of the huia beak which was long, thin and arched downward. Because of its bill shape and sheer beauty, the huia continues to hold a special place in Māori culture and oral tradition.

About the passenger rail service

The start-up passenger rail service project is being led by Waikato Regional Council, working with partners KiwiRail, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, Hamilton City Council, Waikato District Council and Auckland Transport.

A passenger rail connection between Hamilton and Auckland is one of a number of priority projects of the Hamilton to Auckland Corridor Plan (a joint iwi-council-central government initiative).

More information about the service is available at waikatoregion.govt.nz/rail.

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