A bid to return Clive River to its original Maori title will be heard in Napier today.
The original Ngaruroro River was the subject of a major flood control scheme in the 1950s and 1960s. A diversion overflow channel was cut where the river now crosses the Chesterhope Bridge, near the Pakowhai Country Park, in 1966. It was designed to take large volumes of water away from Whakatu and Clive to reduce flooding.
The new overflow channel took on the Ngaruroro name while the old channel was blocked off in 1969 and became the primary outlet for the Raupare and Karamu streams.
The New Zealand Geographic Board decided on the name "Clive River" in 1975 for the old channel.
Regional council staff said over time there had been a number of people questioning the name of the Clive River. They were worried about the loss of its original title and its connection to history.
One of those was Whakatu community leader Des Ratima who said he did not want to "jeopardise the discussion of the committee" today, but hoped it would give the matter serious thought.
"I am pleased to see it's being discussed for the first time and I will be even more pleased if the council moves to reinstate, not rename, the Ngaruroro River because this is what it's about, reinstating its proper name."
Mr Ratima, who lives near the river, raised the issue with council staff during a function late last year and followed it up with a letter to the Maori committee.
"I said to them it's time you restored the proper name to this river. Everyone has assumed it was Clive. But the records show that that's not the name, that it's real name is Ngaruroro.
"We understand the changes to the river were made as part of a flood management plan, but back in those days there was no consultation with Maori, they just went ahead and did it."
Mr Ratima said the river's name provided an important link to history. Its full name was, Ngaruroro moko tuararo ki rangatira, which was given by Ruawharo, one of the tohunga or priests aboard the Takitimu waka when it arrived in Hawke's Bay hundreds of years ago.
"As well as reinstating its name, we should also be looking at reinstating the flow of the river as the diversion has reduced the water flowing and had a big impact on its micro climate, reducing the marine life in it."
Maori communities living near the river know it as the Ngaruroro and continue to call it by that name.
If the committee decides to ask for the name to be reinstated it may open up other problems for the regional council as it will have to look at renaming the overflow channel.