Road name remembers local teenager

Jackson James (JJ) Aitchison. Photo: Supplied

Wanaka Community Board went against the council’s road naming policy last week to approve the naming of a road after deceased teenager Jackson James (JJ) Aitchison.

Willowridge Developments, who is building the Luggate subdivision which houses the new road off Pisa Road, applied to Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC) to name it Jackson Rise after the 17-year-old who was killed in a Ballantyne Road car accident last October.

QLDC resource management engineer Warren Vermaas said he acknowledged that the name was out of policy, which states that road naming after persons living or recently deceased should be avoided, but had recommended it be approved out of respect for JJ’s family.

Willowridge development manager Allan Dippie said that the Luggate community had approached him with the idea for the name.

“We really welcome that, it’s an extremely good idea and JJ’s grandparents, who live in Luggate, were humbled and honoured by the suggestion. His grandad said that it would be a great road to name after Jackson as he used to ride trail bikes in that area when he was just a little nipper. This name is very important to us,” Allan said.

Deputy Mayor and community board member Calum MacLeod said that the decision had caused him “the most consternation” of the road naming applications put before the board that day.

“From the outside JJ’s death is a tragedy and I think everyone would acknowledge that. Council acknowledges that,” Calum said.

“I perish the thought, but if you did have a succession of road accidents, is that person then worthy or not of having a road named after them? It could potentially be quite problematic. Moving forward we need to establish a policy for a stand-down period or whatever is appropriate.”

Councillor Ross McRobie, who was first to approve the name, seconded by Calum, said, “It might make people think a little bit about all sorts of things; life, driving. And if you can make people think about that that’s a positive. It’s not to memorialise or idolise.”

The name Umbers Street for a new road within the Three Parks Development, proposed by Willowridge Developments as a tribute to long-standing local family the Umbers family, was recommended to be declined by QLDC; a move which Allan said was wrong.

“Bryan Umbers has done a lot for the community, for the Presbyterian Church, for the fire service, he used to fix your washing machines, your lawnmowers, everything. We think he is a very worthy person to name a road after.”

The road name was approved, with Calum noting that Bryan, who died last year, had made an “outstanding contribution” to Wanaka for decades.

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