Nick Hill's 30-year research into his district's history has culminated in his campaign to change its name from Tararua to Seventy Mile Bush.

"I want to present a respective suggestion to the powers that be because I've got a remedy to the problem of Tararua's identity," he told a public meeting in Dannevirke.

The meeting was attended by six members of the public and two media representatives this week.

Meetings in Eketahuna, Pahiatua and Woodville have also had low turnouts, with just three in Woodville, which included Tararua District councillor Peter Johns.

Dannevirke's Nick Hill with his notes from 30 years of research into the district's history as he urges a name change to Seventy Mile Bush. Photo / Christine McKay
Dannevirke's Nick Hill with his notes from 30 years of research into the district's history as he urges a name change to Seventy Mile Bush. Photo / Christine McKay

Hill said he was aware there was no appetite for change in Eketahuna and Pahiatua.

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But he said he believed having a strong identity as Seventy Mile Bush could help stave off any attempts at amalgamation with neighbouring regions.

"As an issue [amalgamation], it will rise again inevitably," he said.

"My suggestion is to put Seventy Mile Bush on the map and put our stake in the ground and stay a strong, staunch district.

"I am raising this in the hope we can have a local discussion and I want to avoid social media and keep it like the old days.

"I see this as a way to unify this district."

When asked by the Dannevirke News if he'd costed the changes, Hill said he hadn't.

"I don't meant to campaign on this, but sow the seeds," he said. "I know the Tararua Elements rebranding cost less than $10,000."

However, Tararua District Mayor Tracey Collis said she had had a discussion with the mayor of Whanganui regarding the cost of placing the 'H' in their name.

"You are talking a very large figure," she told the Dannevirke News.

"There would need to be a lot of investigative work to be done and it's a bigger discussion than just a public forum.

"It's taken us 30 years to build the Tararua brand and I'm quite happy with it.

"It will be very difficult and very costly to change and would have to be wanted and accepted by everyone, including our iwi."

Pat Mills said she was in two minds over the issue, but believed it would take a lot of education.

Ross Macdonald, chairman of the Dannevirke Community Board, said with the mood in New Zealand to move to Maori place names he saw Hill's suggestion as a backward step.

Hill said Maori didn't like the name Tararua.

"Seventy Mile Bush seems good to them," he said.

"Maori folk have said to me, 'Tararua means nothing to us'."

However, the Dannevirke meeting was told while Maori would like change, the ideal would be a change to Tamaki Nui-A-Rua.

Hill said he didn't want to flog a dead horse and having floated the name-change idea in the public, would like to step back.

"This name would be an improvement and this is a golden opportunity to pick our district up and go forward with an exciting history," he said.

"There would possibly be a clash with district councillors, but they will just have to cope with it. If we change our name then I guarantee everyone will know where we are."

Hill said he could imagine a "little service" in front of Parliament, with Collis receiving a proclamation from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.

Dannevirke High School teacher Pam Menzies said she supported Hill's suggestion.

"Tararua personally means nothing to me," she said.

"We've had an identity problem for years. Seventy Mile Bush is unique and it's our name.

"Conservation might be a theme for the future. My head is spinning. We should get busy planting native trees."

Hill is considering putting his views to the Tararua District Council at a public forum before a monthly meeting and he would like the council to put a survey form on the issue in with rates bills.

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