TOITU or not TOITU opinion

From: Philip Somerville <>
Date: Mon, 18 Jun 2012 15:25:54 +1200
To: Lee Vandervis <>
Cc: Murray Kirkness <>
Subject: Re: TOITU or not TOITU  opinion

Afraid we will be passing on this one.
Thanks anyway.


Lee Vandervis wrote:

TOITU or not TOITU opinion
TOITU: Otago Settlers Museum

Dear Philip/Murray,

If the opinion below is worthy of publication, sooner rather than later would serve the debate best as Council is to decide in a week on the 25th of this month.

TOITU has got me torn between representing the ratepayers’ views, and representing what I believe are the ratepayer’s best interests.

A clear majority of ratepayers currently have the view that the name ‘Otago Settlers Museum’ is what they prefer, judging by on-line and ODT polls.

A vocal majority of those who have rung/emailed/texted me don’t so much want OSM but dislike/are appalled by TOITU.

Some are upset that the process for choosing the name has been compromised, some complain that TOITU does not mean anything, some just do not like change, some believe the name is offensive to the memory of early mostly Scottish Settlers, and some are anti anymore Maori. Arguments about the costs of changing the name pale into insignificance when the promotions budget is considered as a whole.

The ratepayer’s view that the current name ‘is not broken so why fix it?’ tends to have many of these other objections behind it.

If I am to represent ratepayers’ views then, I should vote for the old ‘Otago Settlers Museum’. This vote also has the purely personal advantage for me of playing safe.

I believe however that ratepayers’ best interests will best served by TOITU as the new name for the OSM, because it is simply the best name put forward for the Museum.

In my opinion the name ‘TOITU’ followed by the subscript ‘Otago Settler’s Museum’, represents an opportunity to recognise both the Maori Community preference, and the on-line Community preference.

TOITU will allow us to build an identity for the new $40 million rebuild of the Museum in a way which will allow it to attract more visitors, attract more attention, and to attract more donated funding [already running to many millions].

Controversy is an important part of attracting all of the above as it generates a focus and media attention which paid advertising could never hope to match. There is such a thing as bad publicity though, which is why too much or any ugly controversy can backfire.

There is a great deal ‘in a name’ as any sales team will tell you, and a new name for the new Museum is a must if its success is to be maximised.

The call for public suggestions and then voting for a name was a weak move as I see it, guaranteed to favour the current name. I was relieved when the genuinely new name TOITU arrived as an option to the dreary variations of OSM.

While the pubic name voting was in progress Local Runanga got together and offered the name TOITU as a gift without stating any preferences about how it might be used, or with what other name. My preference is that it should be the name of the Museum. defines TOITU as undisturbed, untouched, permanent, entire, which fits the Museum in terms of resonant meaning for Maori. The name’s real strength for me is that it is entirely new, short, memorable, easy to spell and say, and that it does not yet have any widely known associations. Many have criticised TOITU saying it does not suggest anything, but that is exactly what is needed if the Museum is to acquire a new identity. TOITU will come to mean the sprit, the place, and the experience of a revitalised Museum that has languished too long as unexceptional.  

The new Museum will still be wonderful with the old name ‘Otago Settlers Museum’, but it will not appear as wonderful or as new if its old name remains.

If I am to represent the ratepayer’s best interests then, I am obliged to vote TOITU.

I am going to go with best interests, because they are long-term with financials, and views are subject to change. We saw views change positively for the exceptionally strong name TE PAPA, and I hope views will change positively for TOITU too.

‘Bloody arrogant’ I hear someone say, and someone is right. I do not think the majority of on-line voters have got the background or the information necessary to make this most important of marketing decisions for the Settlers Museum. I am hesitant to vote for something unpopular, but not unable to vote for it if I believe it will be best for Dunedin.

I will vote for ‘TOITU’ with ‘Otago Settlers Museum’ as a subscript, hoping that those promoting the Museum will be so successful that TOITU will eventually become the name, the place, and the experience.

Kind regards,



About Lee Vandervis

My name is Lee Vandervis and I was born in Balclutha 60 years ago to Dutch immigrant parents who ran a successful building contractor business. I have been passing Dad nails since I can remember and I learned to swing a hammer usefully early in life. My parents always pushed the values of thrift and a broad education. At Otago University I gained a BA in Philosophy before going to London for 5 years overseas experience, working in electronics manufacturing and rising to Production Manager of Midas Audio UK, building mixing consoles for musicians like Stevie Wonder, Supertramp and Pink Floyd. I returned to Dunedin in 1981 to have a family and set up Vandervision Lighting Audio and Video, making it Dunedin’s largest lighting hire business, and restoring heritage buildings like Dundas st Church and 401 Moray Place along the way. I sold most of my business interests when first elected to the DCC in 2004. Dunedin City Councillor profile:
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