Comment permalink

Mountain Biking Otago president Kristy Booth says goodbye to one of the signs deemed ‘...
Mountain Biking Otago president Kristy Booth says goodbye to one of the signs deemed ‘‘inappropriate’’ by the Dunedin City Council. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
The "Ginger Cougar" has found a new home.

The Mountain Biking Otago track sign was one of three "inappropriate" signs the Dunedin City Council asked to be taken down earlier this week after two complaints from the public - alongside The Mrs and The Mistress.

The Tokoroa Mountain Biking Club offered to rehome the sign, a move welcomed by Mountain Biking Otago president Kristy Booth.

"While it was regrettable the sign had to come down and be replaced, our club is over the moon Tokoroa have seen the value in the name, and we will gladly relocate the name and sign to a place where it will be loved and made to feel right at home.

"To me, we’re making good of a bad outcome - that highlights what Mountain Biking Otago is all about."

The sign will "fit right in" with the new and aptly named Tokoroa Cougar Park, she said.

Mountain Biking New Zealand president Chris Arbuckle said the sign, which was put up while he was president of Mountain Biking Otago in 2011, did not have an inappropriate meaning.

"The name ginger cougar came about because the rocks on that track were orange in colour, and cougar refers to a cat, because the trail is hard to chase.

"The track names went through a formal process before council and were signed off. They’ve seen these names before."

Mr Arbuckle said naming signs was often the only "reward" volunteers had for hundreds of hours of work.

"I am puzzled by the process of removing them in this case. I question whether staff within council are following correct engagement."

Dunedin City Council parks and recreation group manager Robert West said the council had a responsibility to act on public concerns.

"Signal Hill is public land designated as a recreation reserve, managed by the council for the benefit of the community.

"We believe the names were inappropriate for tracks on public land and so asked Mountain Biking Otago to rename the track."

He said work on discussing new names for the three affected tracks was "progressing well".

"Council staff have not identified any other inappropriate track names on Signal Hill ... no other name changes are being considered."

Mr West said the council and Mountain Biking Otago had enjoyed a positive relationship while working to develop a "fantastic community asset" on Signal Hill, and said "parties are working together to rectify the issues involved".



View all

Good to see that Tokoroa hasn't been infested with the 'walking woke'......yet.

Robert West has opened a very large door here.

This reader's concern is about another sign that needs changing. The sign of council staff actively responding to a lone complaint from an ultra-sensitive individual about some decade-old, tongue-in-cheek track names deserves plenty of further justified complaints!!

The big question now is will he act on these later complaints too (and reverse his decision)? Robert West should be willing to share with us just how these track signs can be construed as objectionable..

Or the cycling woke it would seem.

Another example of the woke, censorship, PC, culture that has infected our city.
Step by step our city leaders bow to a small group that do NOT represent the diversity nor heritage of Dunedin or even the rest of NZ.
To whom and why is naming sections of a bike or other track the Red Cougar, The Mrs, The Mistress offensive??
What about The Man, The Sucker, The Landing Patch, Stairway to Heaven, The Phalls, The Darkside, Heads Up, The Cowgirl, The Cowboy ???
Are these offensive to the forever offended ???
Bowing to this pathetic policing of language by the self appointed PC brigade smacks of elitism and is Orwellian in the first degree.
It is also a prime example of how ratepayers hard earned money is being wasted on frivolous virtue signalling by our DCC.

"Dunedin City Council parks and recreation group manager Robert West said the council had a responsibility to act on public concerns."
I cannot think of any organisation more selective about what "public concerns" it chooses to act on. George Street petition is recent enough to jog memories isn't it?
Is this the (elected) councillors, the CEO-appointed staff, or a single staff member with too much power and as mind as unwholesome as the person who perceived "inappropriateness" in the signs?
More respect for the cultures and humour of our longstanding communities who put in hours of voluntary work, less kneejerk reaction to the PC take offence types, would be appreciated.

Good riddance. I have always hated those signs. The fact that my 14yo mountain-biking daughter said they made her feel excluded is telling. "Those signs are the way men talk about women when women are not there. It makes me uncomfortable and I don't feel welcome." Grow up boys and show some respect. Those signs might have been ignorable ten years ago, but if MTB Otago has to explain their origins to explain why they're not offensive, then they need to go.

View all



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter