Thursday, July 18, 2013

Why Does It Need A Name?

The biggest Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) ever to be used in Australasia, and the 10th-biggest built worldwide, will soon arrive in NZ to help build Auckland's Waterview Connection.
The 14m-diameter mega TBM will dig two 2.4km tunnels over the next two years, burrowing 45m underground to complete a motorway ring route around the city. To the vast majority of us, it's simply a bloody great tunneling machine. Most of its work goes on outta sight, and we probably won't even reflect on its gargantuan glory when we drive through its efforts in 2017.
But for tunnellers, their superstition supposedly demands that every machine is given a female name before it (or rather she) starts tunnelling. Ever heard of this before??? Yeup, there're intelligent skilled men working deep underground, who harbour superstitions probably originating pre-Industrial Revolution! Really???
Auckland's primary school children were asked to come up with a name for this one. The shortlist was:
Soteria - the Greek goddess of safety and delivery without harm.
Alice - "Just like when she went through a rabbit hole into a wonderland, and when the tunnel is finished it will be wonderful because it will be faster to get to my cousins place."
Tara - short for Tarawa, maori for earthworm.
Ngawini - "known as the queen of the north. A strong fine-looking woman with a regal carriage, one who is expected to be obeyed. Ngawini lived in Paua, born in 1854. A tunnel-boring machine named Ngawini - strong, respected and connecting to north, to continue many more empires."
And we're expected to accept that primary school kids came up with these ideas by themselves? Riiiiigghhtt!
To cut a long tunnel story short, the winner was 'Alice', submitted by a Manukau 9yr.old.
So, now the cuteness and superstition is over, will we get references to Lewis Carroll, the Mad Hatter, Bill the Lizard, the Dormouse and the Cheshire Cat in news stories throughout this project, hmmm? No, I didn't think so. So why did this TBM need a name at all?
Incidentally, the words waka kotahi in the pic are the maori words for the NZ Transport Agency. It supposedly means "one vessel" and is intended to convey the concept of travelling together as one.
Why we need that name also escapes me.

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