Hamilton Mayor abandons idea to change name

Tom Rowland, Hamilton News,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Mar 2018, 11:34AM
The idea had been proposed in a meeting plan last week. (Photo / Tom Rowland)
The idea had been proposed in a meeting plan last week. (Photo / Tom Rowland)

Hamilton Mayor abandons idea to change name

Tom Rowland, Hamilton News,
Publish Date
Thu, 15 Mar 2018, 11:34AM

Hamilton Mayor Andrew King has withdrawn his proposal to rename the council Kirikiriroa City Council after widespread public opposition.

Mayor King's suggestion was included with his monthly report which was tabled with the council today.

His report said: "I have had a number of discussions with local iwi representatives, including King Tuheitia, about Hamilton being more culturally aware of our partnership with Maori.

"I believe a significant step in this process would be renaming [the] council to Kirikiriroa City Council."

This morning however, after some heated submissions during a public forum, King retracted his proposal.

"I feel one way to reflect that heritage would be to emphasise the Maori name for this council. This chair report was only for a starting point," he said.

"The level of public comment and media commentary has gone far beyond that idea."

King said the community has moved into the debate before the council has even got to talk about the concept.

"The reaction to this item has become an unfortunate distraction to that process, that was never my intention.

"It is clear to me that further dicussions on this subject at this time would divert away from the 10 year plan.

"This is not the right plan to be considering this item.

"I am withdrawing the recommendation in this report."

This morning, the public gallery at the Hamilton City Council chambers was packed for a forum. Waikato Security members were also present due to concerns about potential protests.

A member of the public addressed the council and asked whether there had been any public consultation on the proposal.

"My theory is, because we live in a democracy, the place to raise this would had been during an election time.

"The rest of our history has been based on a cow because that what we are, we are the dairy industry," he said.

"Perhaps we should consider putting a big cow out on the main street, like Morrinsville?"

The man said the mayor mentioned in his report the city was in a partnership with Tainui.

"I thought when I voted, I voted for the Hamilton City Council to run this city, not anyone else. Is there something somewhere that I do not know about?

"In terms of the name change, I'm against it."

Frankton resident Brian Burne said there was too much change going on, which he felt was unnecessary.

"This country is all one country," he said.

"You guys are changing names all the time, all the streets are getting changed to Maori names.

"Stop wasting our money. If you have money to waste, then give it back to the ratepayer."

Most of the public attending the meeting filed out of the chambers after the public forum ended.

Councillor Mark Bunting said the mayor had done the right thing by withdrawing the suggestion.

Prior to Thursday's meeting, protesters from the Taxpayers' Union arrived with a petition opposing the proposal.

A spokesperson for the lobby group presented the petition, which he said was signed by 1500 people.

"Think of the cost of changing, logos, stationary and the consultation process."

"The cost are high because it is proposed at a time when council are proposing a 19.5 per cent rates increase over two years.

"Cases like this pose the question, if this is what you do with ratepayers money in the light of day then what are you doing when we are not looking?"

The council has proposed a 9.5 per cent rates increase for next year and another 9.5 per cent the following year.

Councillor Angela O'Leary told Hamilton News earlier this week it was clearly "just a random idea" of the mayor's.

"I am hoping the discussions on Thursday will be a lot fuller and a bit more informative."

The official Hamilton City Council logo includes the Maori name for the city.

O'Leary said the city should be embracing te reo more but the city needs to have a plan and a vision about it.

"We need to ask what are we trying to achieve here and not just some random idea that has popped into someone's head saying let's just change the name of the council and be done with it."