Tag Archives: christchurch

So Much Mo? (Notes on a neologism)

I was reading quake-anniversary blogs about Christchurch on the Herald website yesterday, and I came across the phrase “SoMo” for the area SOuth of MOoorhouse Ave.

I enjoyed the London and New York connotations of the term, and I also enjoy that area.  Before the earthquakes it was arguably most distinguished as a good destination for retro secondhand bargains (clothes from its multiple op shops and records from Penny Lane).  Recently, it’s become home to a bunch of city-refugee businesses like Burgers and Beers and the Honeypot, as well as a whole lot of Gap Filler projects.

Of course, putting the ol’ black hat on for a second, there’s kind of already a name for that area: Sydenham.  Perhaps Sydenham is divided into the commercial area north of Brougham St (“SoMo”, and the residential area south of Brougham St (“SoBro”).  Oh well, they can sort that out amongst themselves.

It got me to thinking, though, that it might be even more useful to coin equivalent names for the areas just outside of the other three Avenues.

So without further ado, I would like to propose that we introduce the following terms to designate those other not-quite-central-not-quite-suburban unsung artistic niches:

  • “EaFitz” (East of Fitzgerald Ave, but before Phillipstown or Linwood)

  • “WeRol” (West of Deans Ave, but just shy of Riccarton)

  • “NorBea” (North of Bealey Ave, but closer in than St Albans and Edgeware)

These are actually some of my favourite parts of town.  I’ve lived in WeRol, home of fine bubble tea, sites of worship for several major world religions, and of course Christchurch’s “alternative art gallery” in the old stockyards.  NorBea I have less experience with, though I was considering moving there until I found a place in EaFitz just today.

It could be argued that while some of these areas are relatively nameless niches, others already have perfectly specific nameswell, sorta.  But Christchurch is already such a loveable sprawl of blurry, overlapping and contested suburb delineations (everyone seems to live in at least two suburbs) that a few more names thrown in there couldn’t hurt, surely.

I for one will be using these four new names as much as possible from now on, and I look forward to hearing you doing the same.

P.S.: Some cursory internet research reveals that my supposedly original idea is basically what they’re already doing in New York with the likes of “NoHo” and NoLIta”, but hey, great minds think alike, right?

P.P.S.: Some MORE cursory internet research (which I maybe should have undertaken before I wrote this blog) reveals that the term “SoMo” is actually being bandied about quite a lot around the internet; even in the prestigious academic journal Lonely Planet.

The bad news is that it looks like these websites are using it as a catch-all signifier for Addington and Sydenham (suspiciously, not Waltham), for when people want to refer to the pre- and post-quake gentrification happening in those areas.

But I’m gonna go ahead and defend my more specific definition of SoMo anyway.  I can provide irrefutable Wikipedia and Google Maps proof that SoHo in New York is a very specific intra-suburb neighbourhood, not a general trans-suburb area.  Vote for a small SoMo, vote for localism against centralisation and super-suburbs…

Anyway, SoMo has a way different feel to Addington.  The buildings are a lot bigger over there.  Both suburbs have a lot of exciting new commercial and community activity, sure, but that doesn’t make them the same place just because they happen to be vaguely close to one another.

Besides, Addington is just as much “WeRol” as “SoMo”…